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Rhode Island Builder Report, Conversation with Scott Wolf

GrowSmartRI Executive Director Scott Wolf is featured in this month’s The Rhode Island Builder Report, the publication of the Rhode Island Builders Association.

Scott speaks about the Rhode Island economy, housing, the state’s many assets, historic tax credits, transportation, and more.

On Rhode Island’s assets:

They include a tremendous collection of historic buildings and neighborhoods. They include our institutions of higher education and healthcare, which create a foundation for a stronger “knowledge economy” in the future.

Our natural resources and natural beauty are tremendous assets, including our open spaces located next to densely populated areas. We have quality of life and quality of place that can encourage people and businesses to look seriously at Rhode Island.

Our tourism industry, our ports and our airport are natural strengths that have been underinvested in. The whole farm economy is the Rodney Dangerfield of our economic sector. It gets no re-spect, but it does quite well.

Our location is another asset. There are tens of millions of people within a day’s drive of Rhode Island, and we’re in all the major transportation linkages.

On regionalization:

There are a number of areas where in-state and multi-state regionalization make sense at this point. Some of it doesn’t even involve government.

One thing we advocate is a consortium to develop an “ocean research corridor initiative” across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. This would coordinate universities and laborato- ries from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, all the way to Mystic, Con- necticut. It would encourage coordinated development, jobs and investment, indirectly benefiting the housing market in the whole region.

Regional tourism promotion and transportation infrastructure are other goals.

On economic recovery:

There’s a lot of room for growth here, but we need not only an economic adjustment but an attitude adjustment. We often are our own worst enemies. Just as it’s unrealistic to think that everything’s wonderful, it’s also unrealistic to think that everything’s awful. Many people, especially us natives, are in that latter frame of mind, and there’s such a thing as a negative, self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s why GSRI is trying to get more people who have moved here involved in the recovery process. They as a group tend to be much more upbeat about Rhode Island’s potential, and that can do a lot for everyone who loves Rhode Island.

Read the full conversation with Scott starting on page 8 of The Rhode Island Builder Report [.pdf]

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