The following is a cross-post from the official website of the Honorable U.S. Senator Roger Wicker
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, hosted U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo for a tour of sites along the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Friday, June 25. Wicker invited Raimondo to tour the Mississippi Gulf Coast prior to her confirmation as Secretary of Commerce. While on the coast, Wicker and Raimondo visited sites that highlighted the recent progress being made along the Gulf Coast, including in broadband internet deployment, unmanned maritime systems research, and COVID-19 vaccinations, all of which are important focus areas for the Commerce Department and its bureaus such as NOAA and NTIA.
Wicker and Raimondo also hosted an industry roundtable at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Aquarium in Gulfport at the end of their trip. The roundtable featured business development leaders, representatives of the Gulf Coast research, fishing, and agricultural community, local elected officials, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Wicker and Raimondo made their first stop of the day at the headquarters of the Coast Electric Power Association in Picayune. The officials heard from representatives of the co-op about their effort to bridge the digital divide in Mississippi with their broadband service, CoastConnect. They also heard a testimonial from a customer of CoastConnect who had used the service to begin working from her family land, which had not been previously served by high-speed internet.
In Gulfport, Wicker and Raimondo visited a CVS vaccination site to encourage more Mississippians to get vaccinated.
Wicker and Raimondo next visited the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Marine Research Center in Gulfport. Through the research initiated by Wicker’s Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology Act (CENOTE) Act, institutions such as USM are excelling in unmanned systems research and operating these systems on the Gulf Coast. Wicker and Raimondo learned about the commercial partnerships that are being developed at the USM Marine Research Center and saw a demonstration of an unmanned maritime system used at the facility.
Wicker and Raimondo concluded their trip with a visit to the Mississippi Aquarium, where they hosted a roundtable discussion featuring business development leaders, representatives of the Gulf Coast research, fishing, and agricultural community, local elected officials, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
After the roundtable, Wicker and Raimondo met with Chief Cyrus Ben of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to discuss tribal broadband issues.