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Grow Smart RI reaches out to candidates, voters to advance long-term revitalization agenda

2018 Briefing Book outlines recommended actions at state and local level

October 11, 2018, Providence, RI – Grow Smart RI issued its 2018 Briefing Book for Candidates & Voters today saying that growth policies are only smart if they’re sustainable and benefit the many, not just the few.

The Briefing Book is centered around the following broad goals:

• Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth
• Revitalized Urban and Town Centers
• Expanded Transportation Choices
• Strategic Renewable Energy Siting Policies
• Conservation of Rhode Island’s Forests

In the two years since publishing our last briefing book in 2016, Rhode Island has experienced several positive developments. The state’s economy is stronger, cranes are once again on the downtown skyline, our quality of place and local food scene are the subject of numerous magazine articles, and new companies are choosing Rhode Island as a place to locate, develop talent and grow.

Still, we believe that Rhode Island has serious remaining challenges and vast untapped potential. While the revitalization momentum of our Capital City is impressive, elected leaders must redouble their efforts to help create the conditions for accelerating the revitalization of urban and town centers across the state from Woonsocket to Westerly. “Although the knee-jerk negativity that has hobbled Rhode Island for far too long is abating, it’s still far too pervasive and threatens sound public-private partnerships for new investment. The State’s failed effort to successfully collaborate with the Pawtucket Red Sox on a new stadium proposal as the centerpiece of a revitalized Downtown Pawtucket is a notable example”, says Scott Wolf, Executive Director.

We believe it’s critical that the state and its municipalities work together to improve access to jobs, transit, and to increase housing production across the state to meet the existing and projected need to support a growing economy. Additional efforts are required to maintain the state’s urban-rural balance, build off the notable revitalization happening in Providence and curb the loss of forestland to renewable energy sprawl.

Information about accessing the book has been mailed to more than 750 candidates for state and local office. The major candidates* for Governor have been asked to respond in writing to a number of key statewide policy recommendations. As a 501 (c) (3) organization, Grow Smart RI does not advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for public office. We will, however, publish verbatim responses from gubernatorial candidates on our website on or about October 16, 2018.

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

* Those who achieved a minimum of 2% support in statewide polling

Highlights of specific recommendations:

  • Infrastructure Investment: Prioritize working with the General Assembly to approve funding for the RI Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program, the framework of which was unanimously passed in the 2018 General Assembly (H-7102/S-2239).
  • Renewable Energy Siting: Support establishment of meaningful incentives to encourage renewable energy installations on previously developed or disturbed locations such as brownfields, closed landfills, parking canopies and rooftops.
  • State Historic Tax Credit: Support a multi-year funding commitment for this proven economic and community development incentive that has 32 stalled projects on a waiting list, projects that represent more than $250M in proposed private investment.
  • Public Transportation: Have Rhode Island state government lead by example and promote increased ridership by offering a RIPTA transit pass program to all state employees as an option in lieu of free parking.
  • Housing: Include an annual line item in the State Budget to help increase affordable housing production which can’t be met just through zoning reform strategies and occasional bond issues.

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