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UMass Dartmouth will break ground Friday on a $55 million expansion to its School for Marine Science and Technology.

The new 76,000-square-foot facility will be next door to the existing School for Marine Science and Technology, according to a university statement Wednesday. It is being built in collaboration with the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

The university hopes the expansion will create a more comprehensive marine science campus for education and research of commercial fishing, coastal preservation, ocean observation, and climate change.

The campus is located in New Bedford, a town recognized nationally as a top fishing port and a potential base for offshore wind energy development. The combined value of marine economies across the state has been estimated to exceed $130 billion, employing more than 1.3 million people, the university said.


The groundbreaking is set for 10 a.m. on Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.

Sarah Roberts can be reached at sarah.roberts@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @heysarahroberts