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2014 Power of Place Summit

Took place on Friday, May 23, 2014

Attendee Directory


Summit draws 500 to convention center to discuss “Positioning Rhode Island for an Economic Renaissance”

By all accounts, this year’s Power of Place Summit was a resounding success. Together, we raised significant new awareness of the great potential for Rhode Island to capitalize more fully on our numerous assets. Several featured examples of innovation and success already happening here in the Ocean State demonstrated that this potential is very real and already helping to move Rhode Island in the right direction.

And there was an important audience to hear it. In all, 500 people turned out, including local and state officials and business and civic leaders, developers, farmers, architects, investors and advocates from 32 of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, as well as from six other states and the District of Columbia.

Opening Remarks


Remarks by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee


Candidates’ Forum

candidate forum

Keynote Address – Dr. Benjamin Barber


Click HERE to see the 2014 Smart Growth Awards Winners

Summit Agenda Review

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. • Registration / Networking
8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. • Morning Plenary

  • Welcome – Howard Kilguss, Chairman, Grow Smart RI
  • Summit Overview – Scott Wolf, Executive Director, Grow Smart RI
  • Keynote Address – Benjamin R. Barber

Benjamin R. Barber
Political analyst and author of If Mayors Ruled the World

PPSGrow Smart is pleased to present the keynote speaker in partnership with the Providence Preservation Society.


More on Barber and the book

In the face of the most perilous challenges of our time – climate change, terrorism, economic stagnation – the nations of the world seem paralyzed. The problems are too big, entrenched, and divisive for the nation state. Is the nation state, once democracy’s best hope, today dysfunctional and obsolete?  The answer is “yes”, says Benjamin R. Barber in If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

What about Rhode Island?  How does a city-state (as we’re often called) compete and govern most effectively in this new world order Barber talks about. In his latest book he asserts that cities, and the mayors that run them, offer the best new forces of good and effective governance. Why cities? Because they’re the most networked and interconnected of our political associations, defined above all by collaboration and pragmatism, by creativity and multiculturalism.  They are the primary incubator of the cultural, social, and political innovations that shape our planet. So could Rhode Island, the 2nd most urbanized state in the nation, capitalize more fully on our urban character and better empower our 39 cities and towns to shape a more prosperous and resilient region?  Come hear what Benjamin Barber has to say about that.

  • Remarks by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee
  • Gubernatorial Candidates’ Panel Discussion moderated by Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy


10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. • Break in Exhibit Area
10:45 a.m. – Noon • Morning Workshops

Transportation Funding in 2014: Every State for Themselves?

With the Highway Trust Fund headed for insolvency, the federal transportation funding authorization law (MAP 21) set to expire in September and transit agencies across the country struggling to meet a growing demand, proposals from governors, state legislatures and blue ribbon commissions galore have sparked a new debate over the ways we collect revenue to support transportation at every level.  Rhode Island faces a particular challenge because it’s more dependent than most states on federal funding, because our backlog of structurally deficient roads and bridges is among the highest nationally and because RIPTA is under increasing pressure with one of the fastest growing ridership gains in the country while its primary revenue source continues to decline.

  • Jerry Elmer, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation and Co-Chair, Coalition for Transportation Choices (Moderator)
  • James Corless, Executive Director, Transportation for America
  • Senator Louis P. DiPalma, Rhode Island Senate
  • Representative John G. Edwards, Rhode Island House Majority Whip
  • Michael P. Lewis, Director, RIDOT
  • Raymond Studley, Director, RIPTA

How the Proposed $75M Environmental Bond can Boost Rhode Island's Economy

In his State of the State, Governor Chafee proposed a “Healthy Communities” bond referendum proposal that would invest in a range of environmental programs aimed at boosting Rhode Island’s economy.  Included in the allocations are $20 million to finance “water pollution abatement” projects; $15 million for public water supply improvements; $5 million for brownfield remediation; $4 million for “green infrastructure” projects; $3 million for flood prevention; $7 million for land acquisitions and conservation efforts; $3 million for farmland acquisitions; $3.2 million for shellfish management and restoration; $4.3 million for marine infrastructure and pier development; $4 million for park and management area improvements, and $4 million for local recreational facility improvements. Find out what kinds of projects would qualify, how funds would be awarded and how projects funded by previous environmental bonds are now paying dividends for our state.

  • Janet Coit, Director, Rhode Island DEM
  • Jeanne Boyle, Director of Planning, City of East Providence
  • Janine Burke, Executive Director, Warwick Sewer Authority
  • Walter Burke, Director of Bristol Parks, Recreation & Environment, Town of Bristol

What’s Attracting Young Talent & Companies to Rhode Island?

The new generation of creative workers and entrepreneurs are different than their elders.  Across the country, they are changing business location decisions.  In what type of community do they want to work, to live, to start a business?  What community and neighborhood characteristics are important to them and how does Rhode Island measure up?  What action can Grow Smart and its allies take to help create neighborhoods and communities that help attract and retain creative workers and entrepreneurs and business?  Join four downtown Providence entrepreneurs who are attracting creative talent to help them grow their businesses.

  • Dan Baudouin, Executive Director, Providence Foundation (Moderator)
  • Jason Kelly, Executive VP, Moran Shipping Agencies
  • Jeremy Crisp, Managing Partner, NAIL
  • Nick Kishfy, Founder and CEO, Mojo Tech

Agriculture as a 21st Century Land Use

This session explores agriculture’s role in a 21st century metropolitan area, with innovation economics as the frame of reference.  The session looks at specific efforts to transition land use planning and zoning practice pertaining to agriculture to build healthy, vibrant, multi-dimensional communities.  The February 2014 issue of Economic Development Quarterly is devoted to the topic “Urban and Rural: Opposites No More!”  How can this new reality play out in Rhode Island with its noteworthy but delicate urban/rural balance?  The session treats planning and land use regulations pertaining to farming as vital to integrating urban and rural values to address 21st century needs for resilience.

  • Kenneth F. Payne, Ph.D., Administrator, RI Agricultural Partnership
  • Tess Brown-Lavoie, Sidewalk Ends Farm, New England Farmers Union
  • Scott Millar, Administrator, RI Department of Environmental Management
  • Richard Schartner, Owner, Schartner Farms

TDR: Using the Market to Draw Development to Centers, Away from Sprawl

The Town of North Kingstown is embracing Transit Oriented Development at Wickford Junction, and connecting that development to its village centers.  Efforts have included newly adopted zoning that will significantly streamline TDR and increase density.  Market analyses were used to justify proposed residential densities and quantify the financial relationship between “sending area” land and bonus residential units.  Wastewater disposal analyses were performed to develop a nutrient trading system and also to identify potential short and long-term disposal solutions for the district.  Local transit assessments were also performed to identify opportunities for better connections between the transit hub and local destinations.

  • Jon Reiner, Director of Planning, Town of North Kingstown
  • Nate Kelly, Horsley Witten Group

Bringing New Voices to the Table: Moving the Equity Agenda to AdvanceRI’s Economy

What is equity?  How is it affected by place?  What can the state and local governments do to create a more equitable Rhode Island?   This interactive session will present an overview of the concept of equity, provide a framework for thinking about equity in economic and community development decision-making, and will use real-life examples to help participants understand how equity is impacted by planning and policy. Learn from local leaders and begin to move the equity agenda forward in your work.

  • Chelsea Siefert, Principal Planner, RI Division of Planning
  • Amanda Martin, Staff to Rhode MapRI’s Social Equity Advisory Committee (SEAC)
  • Angela Ankoma, Chief, RI Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health
  • Anna Cano-Morales, Director, Latino Policy Institute at RWU

Examining Rhode Island's Tourism Brand

This facilitated conversation begins to forge the unique brand elements that set RI apart as a premiere New England destination. We begin with ideas that make experiencing a place special.  We then present the unique Econometric Model the United Nations World Tourism Organization and Rhode Island uses to measure its tourism economic impact. We’ll discuss challenges facing the industry, identify known tourism landmarks, and uncover gems waiting for the spotlight. Based on the known and yet to be known gems, we will identify the DNA that sets Rhode Island apart as we set out to craft the unique brand.

  • Robert Leaver, Founder, New Commons
  • Robert Billington, Director, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
  • Presented by the Rhode Island Tourism Districts and the RI Division of Tourism

12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. • Luncheon and Smart Growth Awards Program
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. • Afternoon Workshops I

Improving Transit Connectivity and Economic Growth in our City-State

Rhode Islanders are using mass transit at an increasing rate – RIPTA’s ridership is up nearly 11% in the last three years.  It now ranks 7th in the nation for the fastest rate of bus ridership growth among large transit agencies (just behind Washington, DC, Houston, Cincinnati, Seattle, New York in Cleveland).  To embrace the growth and capitalize on the economic opportunity, Governor Chafee proposed a bold “Transit Hubs” vision in his State of the State Address.  His public-private partnership proposal calls for improving the overall transit experience, providing a seamless connection with MBTA commuter rail at Amtrak Station and establishing a secondary hub in the new I-195 Development District, re-linking almost 40 acres of land to downtown, including 19 acres of development parcels.  Hear from those shaping this proposal that will come before voters in November.

  • Amy Pettine, Director of Planning, RIPTA (moderator)
  • Phil Kydd, Deputy Director, RIDOT
  • Geoff Slater, Principal, Nelson/Nygaard
  • Todd Turcotte, Vice President, Capital Properties, Inc.

Throw Out the Rulebook: Exploring Radical Approaches for Redevelopment in RI

Redevelopment of older urban sites is subject to dozens of restrictions and incentives addressing access to funding, building and fire codes, environmental issues, historic preservation, and inadequate infrastructure. Is it possible that the only way to incite redevelopment is to change some (or all) of these factors? Roger Williams University (RWU) teamed with the RI Commerce Corporation, Central Falls and Pawtucket to find radically different methods to stimulate redevelopment. Professionals and students in business, architecture and historic preservation will present specific recommendations to make redevelopment more feasible and to unlock the potential of urban sites.

  • Arnold Robinson, Director, Community Partnerships Center, Roger Williams University (Moderator)
  • Mayor James A. Diossa, City of Central Falls
  • Edgar Adams, Professor of Architecture, Roger Williams University
  • Aaron Hertzberg, Executive Director, Pawtucket Foundation
  • Susan Mara, Senior Planner, City of Pawtucket

Navigating the New Historic Tax Credit Program and Ensuring its Continuation

In 2013, the Rhode Island General Assembly publicly recognized the importance of adopting a new economic incentive for the purpose of stimulating redevelopment and reuse of Rhode Island’s historic structures as well as generating positive economic and employment activities that result from such redevelopment and reuse.  The passage of R.I.G.L. Title 44, Chapter 33.6, Historic Preservation Tax Credits 2013 (the “Act”), has reinvigorated historic redevelopment in the Ocean State.  Recent IRS guidance on the federal historic tax credit program is expected to revitalize the federal historic tax credit market, putting projects in a position to use both resources. This panel will focus on the requirements of the new state historic tax credit program set forth in the Act and the regulations, highlighting changes from the old (2008) program. The panel will also provide an update on legislative efforts to expand the current program.

  • Scott Wolf, Executive Director, Grow Smart Rhode Island (Moderator)
  • Michelle Ruberto Fonseca, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
  • Eric Darling, Principal, Carlisle Tax Credit Advisors, LLC
  • Albert S. Rex, Director, MacRostie Historic Advisors, LLC

Innovative Ideas Driving Main Street Revitalization in 3 RI Communities

The City of Central Falls recently turned to online crowdfunding platform Citizinvestor to fund a public park project, raising not only funds, but also awareness and community engagement for their placemaking plans. In the BlackstoneValley, The Apiary is rallying community support around a housing-continuing education concept to encourage recent college grads to live and work at the city’s center, and in Warren, Hope & Main is transforming a 100-year-old shuttered school building into the state’s first food business incubator. Learn firsthand how these three communities are innovating the way we drive Main Street revitalization in Rhode Island and creating unique spaces embraced by local residents.

  • Stephen Larrick, Director of Planning, City of Central Falls
  • Lisa Raiola, Founder and President of Hope & Main
  • Ruarri Miller, Founder, The Apiary

Planning for a Strong Local Food System in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state in the United States, and can be considered a majority urban and peri-urban State. As Rhode Island moves towards thinking of food from a systems perspective, we have an exciting opportunity to find intersections between economic development, planning, conservation, and land use. But with these opportunities come tensions, as increased food production and food manufacturing activities sometimes conflict with public perceptions and community preferences. How do we address these tensions as we plan for a stronger local food system in Rhode Island? This panel will share specific examples of how businesses, non-profits, and local governments have managed challenges with food infrastructure.

  • Leo Pollock, RI Food Policy Council (Moderator)
  • Jeff Davis, RI Statewide Planning
  • Caroline Wells, Town of Warren
  • Rachel Newman Greene, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation Sankofa Market and Farm
  • Stephen Volpe, Rhody Fresh Dairy Cooperative

2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. • Afternoon Break in Exhibit Area
3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. • Afternoon Workshops II

City Centre Warwick District: Collaboration Towards a Revitalized Streetscape Experience

The City Centre Warwick District has continued to evolve since completion of the Warwick Commuter Rail Station and the Interlink connection to T.F. Green Airport, and has experienced a resurgence of interest through plans to redevelop Elizabeth Mills.  To continue this momentum, the City of Warwick, RIDOT, FHWA, Commerce RI and VHB, Inc. have worked collaboratively in developing a comprehensive Streetscape Master Plan along with funding sources and the new City Centre Warwick website to celebrate and provide an information gateway to the district.  Join the discussion as the panelists walk you through their process in developing each of these key complimentary facets of the project.

  • Stephen Derdiarian, ASLA, Director of Landscape Architecture Design, VHB, Inc. (Moderator)
  • Steve Devine, Chief, Intermodal Planning, RIDOT
  • Corey Bobba, Program Development Team Leader, Federal Highway Administration
  • William DePasquale, AICP, Planning Director, City of Warwick, RI
  • John Riendeau, Business Services, Commerce RI

RhodeMapRI: Are we on the Right Track?

Join staff of the RI Statewide Planning Program for an interactive session on the progress of RhodeMapRI ( After brief presentations on the development of new Housing and Economic Development Plans for Rhode Island, and a tool box for implementing “growth centers” throughout the state, participants will be engaged to give their feedback.  We want to hear from you what’s missing, what’s most important, and where you can add value or knowledge to help implement these ideas.

  • Kevin Flynn, Associate Director, RI Division of Planning (Moderator)
  • Jeff Davis, Acting Supervising Planner, RI Statewide Planning Program
  • Siobhan O’Kane, Principal Planner, RI Statewide Planning Program

Leveraging Local and Regional Assets to Reinvigorate Historic Centers

Since the birth of the industrial revolution, the BlackstoneRiver has played a critical role in the transformation of land uses and development patterns along the length of its corridor. The Cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, in association with The Pawtucket Foundation, have been actively planning to identify new ways to leverage this great natural resource, as well as the cities prominent locations and regional access to spur the next generation of redevelopment along the BlackstoneRiver. Join the discussion as the panelist outline best practices in reinvigorating the historic river corridor though regulatory reform, policies, targeted public realm and infrastructure improvements, incentives and market conditions that will contribute towards revitalizing these urban waterfronts.

  • Geoffrey Morrison-Logan, Planning & Urban Design Team Leader, VHB (Moderator)
  • Barney Heath, Director of Planning and Redevelopment, City of Pawtucket
  • Aaron Hertzberg, Executive Director, Pawtucket Foundation
  • Frank Mahady, Principal, FXM Associates

Climate Change Leadership & Innovation: Transportation Strategies for a Resilient RI

What is the future of transportation in RI in the context of climate change? The transportation sector is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in New England, and Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure will be impacted significantly by climate change, whether sea level rise or flooding, storm surges and other damaging events during severe weather.  This workshop will present information on recent initiatives to address both mitigation of climate change impacts and adaptation to change that is coming (or already happening) including Governor Chafee’s Executive Climate Change Council and Representative Handy’s Resilient RI Act. Participants will identify ways to involve more businesses and people in this important conversation about Rhode Island’s future.

  • Meg Kerr, Environment Council of Rhode Island (moderator)
  • Michael P. Lewis, Director, RIDOT
  • Rep. Art Handy, Chair, RI House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
  • David Chodakowitz, Brown University Student


Placemaking: How Arts Stakeholders are Shaping New Approaches

Federal agency partnerships are playing a critical role supporting the integration of arts and culture.  At the local level, the City of Providence is successfully leveraging these partnerships to enrich the economic resiliency of our neighborhoods. Our panel will discuss current examples of the collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, HUD, and the City of Providence, including the re-envisioning of KennedyPlaza and the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant. Creative strategies utilizing art, design, and programming will be shared as examples of engaging local communities through placemaking efforts.

  • Barbara Fields, Regional Administrator, U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (Moderator)
  • Dan Lurie, Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Partnerships, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
  • Lynne McCormack, Director of Art, Culture and Tourism, City of Providence
  • Cliff Wood, Executive Director, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy
  • Donald Powers, Principal, Union Studio Architecture & Community Design

Why Streetcar? Why Now?

Why Streetcar? Why Now?

Providence is a dense, walkable historic city with several unprecedented economic opportunities in the heart of downtown. No single project would do more to add value to each of these opportunities than building the Providence Streetcar, an urban circulator that would connect all of these opportunities to each other and to the two largest employment centers in the State, the universities and hospitals. Refresh yourself on the details of the Providence Streetcar and learn from other communities about the immediate economic impact of investing in transit infrastructure – of city’s investing in themselves – and the potential to bring this investment to the Capital City.

  • Sarah Lewis, Associate, Urban Planning and Community, Fuss & O’Neill
  • Bonnie Nickerson – Director of Long-Range Planning, City of Providence Planning Dept.

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. • Cash Bar Reception

Revisit the highlights of the 2012 Summit

Keynote speeches (click to watch)