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Grow Smart offers candidates set of policy reforms to jumpstart economy, capitalize on place-based assets

21-page Briefing Book ties together economic development and job creation, tax-dollar efficiencies and strong, vibrant and healthy communities

For Immediate Release

Scott Wolf, Executive Director – 401.273.5711, Ext. 4 –
John Flaherty, Director of Research & Communications – 401.273.5711, Ext. 5 –

Download Briefing Book – For best results printing, please download the book, and open with Adobe Reader.

August 17, 2012, Providence, RI – Saying that bold action is urgently needed to make the most efficient use of limited resources and to accelerate economic recovery, Grow Smart Rhode Island today released its 2012 Briefing Book for Candidates and Voters. In it, the public policy research and advocacy group presents a number of recommendations for an asset based economic development strategy to expand the state’s economic development focus beyond austerity measures that only avert disaster rather then ensure a stronger future. Postcards promoting the online book are being mailed to more than 3,400 candidates for state, local and federal office.

The Briefing Book is centered on the following broad and integrated keys to sustainable economic growth:

  • Asset-based Economic Development
  • Public Investments and Incentives
  • Revitalized Urban and Town Centers
  • Natural Resource Protection
  • Transportation Choices
  • Housing Options and Affordability
  • Agricultural Viability & Profitability

Commenting on the book’s release, Scott Wolf, Grow Smart’s Executive Director noted that “In these tough economic times, we believe that Rhode Island voters are looking for leadership, vision and something more dynamic than damage control. They want to elect candidates who have specific ideas for improving economic conditions by playing to our strengths.”

Wolf added: “How Rhode Island manages and invests in its physical assets will have a tremendous impact on future economic development.” He emphasized that “Quality of Place” is becoming an increasingly competitive advantage for the very mobile, high-wage, knowledge-based workers and jobs that Rhode Island seeks to attract.

The Briefing Book is a non partisan effort to promote better understanding of growth and development issues and various strategies and best practices to tap Rhode Island’s full economic, environmental and social potential.

According to Grow Smart, Smart Growth is development that serves the economy, the community and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to “how and where can new development best be accommodated?” At its heart smart growth is about encouraging community development that

prevents waste – waste of buildings and neighborhoods, of environmental resources, energy, tax dollars, of people’s time and of people’s individual and collective potential.

A number of the Book’s recommendations require little or no money, while others involve targeted investments necessary to tap the State’s full potential and to sustain long-term economic growth.

Highlights of specific recommendations include:

  • Reinstate a State Historic Tax Credit to create construction jobs and stimulate private investment rehabbing historic buildings that define many of our urban and town centers.
  • Identify adequate, long range and sustainable funding sources for roads, bridges and public transportation, critical infrastructure for economic growth.
  • At no cost to the State, provide an innovative way for municipalities to invest in upgrading Main Street district infrastructure by exempting from the property tax levy cap law (S-3050) a portion of new property taxes generated in these districts.
  • Amend the existing Municipal Economic Development (MED) Zone law for distressed communities (44-18-30C) by extending the eligibility to all qualified retailers, including those operating in existing or rehabbed building space and lift the population restriction that now precludes Providence and Pawtucket from participating.
  • Strengthen the capacity of municipalities to utilize low-cost tools for open space and farmland preservation, such as Conservation Development design and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs.
  • On the November 2012 ballot, support the Housing Bond of $25 million for the creation of long-term affordable homes; the Environmental Management Bond of $20 million allocating funds for local recreation and open space grants, the protection of farmland and open space and restoration of the Narragansett Bay Watershed; and the Clean Water Bond of $20 million to fund improvements to wastewater treatment and drinking water in cities and towns.
About Grow Smart Rhode Island

Grow Smart Rhode Island is a statewide public interest group representing a broad coalition of partners that advocates for sustainable economic growth that builds upon and strengthens Rhode Island’s exceptional quality of place. We work to achieve • Revitalized, walkable urban and town centers; • Housing options and affordability; • Expanded transportation choices; • A vital agricultural sector; and • Responsible stewardship of natural resources. Grow Smart’s work has been honored with awards from the EPA Region 1, the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association, Rhode Island Housing, Preserve Rhode Island, the Providence Preservation Society, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and the Environmental Business Council of New England.

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