Advancing Rhode Island’s Innovation Economy

Apr132015

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Assistant Secretary Jay Williams, the Rhode Island congressional delegation and local civic and business leaders tour EDA investment projects site in Rhode Island
Assistant Secretary Jay Williams, the Rhode Island congressional delegation and local civic and business leaders tour EDA investment projects site in Rhode Island

Last week, I had the pleasure of touring Rhode Island at the invitation of the state’s congressional delegation to see first-hand the collaborative work taking place there to build the next generation of businesses for the region. I was impressed with the Ocean State’s dedicated workers and by the atmosphere of collaboration there. By working together, Rhode Island is capitalizing on its assets and innovation to ensure its global competitiveness. 

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been, and will continue to be, a proud partner in Rhode Island in advancing American innovation and entrepreneurship.

EDA provides a range of tools to economically distressed communities, including: grant funding for public works projects; Trade Assistance Centers, to help strengthen American firms affected by foreign imports; University Centers, to help link businesses to resources in academia; and technical assistance programs, to help distressed firms access cutting-edge business practices. Our Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) works to foster a more innovative U.S. economy.

On my visit I participated in a manufacturing forum entitled “The Future of Rhode Island’s Economy,” where I joined Senator Whitehouse, Governor Raimondo, Congressman Cicilline, and business leaders representing Rhode Island composites manufacturing companies. There, we discussed how the state’s composites industry is leveraging a long tradition of excellence in marine manufacturing to expand into fast-growing and dynamic new industries, such as aerospace and defense. I also had the pleasure of touring the Rhode Island Composite Alliance facility to see the great work they are doing to grow economic opportunity in the state.

Later in the day, we visited Newport TechWorks, the site of a proposed business incubator. In 2014, the EDA committed over $1.7 million in grant funding to the city of Newport to redevelop and reuse the 33,000-square-foot former Sheffield public school building. The funding is set to transform the space into a collaborative work environment for entrepreneurs and small technology companies in the Aquidneck Island and southeastern Massachusetts market.

We also toured the Port of Galilee in Narragansett, where EDA invested $2.9 million as part of a $5.8 million effort to repair infrastructure at the port to support the 240 commercial fishing vessels there that play a vital role in Rhode Island’s $200 million fishing industry.

We wrapped the day at the Quonset Business Park, where EDA has funded many major infrastructure improvements in recent years, including a $6 million commitment for the Zarbo Avenue Bulkhead and nearly $4 million for the Romano Vineyard Way Bridge, which connects the two halves of the park. The bulkhead project will allow a local marine trades company to expand. 

In total, EDA has invested over $37 million in Rhode Island since 2009, including $2.9 million in funding to rehabilitate infrastructure in the Port of Galilee and nearly $10 million at the Quonset Business Park. 

I thank Rhode Island’s congressional delegation for hosting me and for their work to ensure a bright future for the state.

I was pleased to see firsthand the positive impact that EDA investments have in helping American communities come together to advance their local strategies to spur new economic opportunity and create jobs for their communities and the nation. 

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Last updated: 2017-01-26 14:56

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