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An economic development call to action

RIPEC’s report on structural reform of our economic development delivery system offers some suggestions worthy of consideration.  However, with Rhode Island’s unemployment rate still among the nation’s highest, we cannot let the report become a rationale for further delay in implementing an asset based economic development strategy. Targeted investments in our state’s assets are urgently needed and economically feasible, and can not wait the estimated two years until RIPEC’s structural reform proposals are fully implemented.
While proposals are being developed and debated to address business climate issues and new organizational designs for economic development, Rhode Island already has six (6) Infrastructure Improvement proposals that are widely vetted and ready to be enacted.  Three of these are bond issues that will be in the hands of Rhode Island’s voters this November 6th– the proposed $ 25 million affordable housing bond (Question 7), the $ 20 million clean water bond (Question 5) and the $ 20 million open space, farmland protection and recreation bond (Question 6). 

We are convinced that if these measures are passed they will generate a high and relatively quick   return on investment in physical improvements to the state’s infrastructure along withthousands of new construction and permanent jobs. We urge our leaders to rally support for these measures now by educating the electorate about the relevance of each proposal for the state’s economic well being. 

Teed up for early action in the 2013 General Assembly are three other important investment focused economic development initiatives.  

  1. A proposal to bring back in modified form the successful State Historic Tax Credit to jumpstart economic development in our urban and town centers.
  2.  The proposal of the Coalition for Transportation Choices to invest more systematically in mass transitto better connect workers with jobs and to save people money on their commute.
  3. A proposal endorsed by the RI League of Cities and Towns, municipal officials and several legislators strengthening municipalities’ ability and incentive to invest in key infrastructure critical for economic development at the local level.

Detailed information about each of these proposals as well as other economic development opportunities for Rhode Island is available in Grow Smart RI’s 2012 Briefing Book for Candidates and Voters at  The 21-page book makes the case for an asset based economic development strategy to expand the state’s economic development focus beyond austerity measures that only avert disaster rather than ensure a stronger future.

Echoing the call of the Rhode Island Foundation, Grow Smart RI asserts that it’s time in Rhode Island to make things happen economically. There are plenty of good ideas and tools already developed to boost our economic performance.  While we evaluate the RIPEC report’s recommendations, let’s push forward with those ideas so that we can begin immediately to build the new economic momentum we desperately need, and that Grow Smart believes is well within our grasp.

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  1. Grow Smart applauds voters for approving investments to strengthen Rhode Island - November 8, 2012

    […] We are convinced that these investments will generate a high and relatively quick return in physical improvements to the state’s infrastructure along with thousands of new construction and permanent jobs. They are part of a package of proposals that Grow Smart recently unveiled in our economic call to action. […]