Quonset on national stage as key driver of regional economy - by Steven King

June 10, 2016 - Rhode Island
Steven King, Quonset Development Corp. Steven King, Quonset Development Corp.

With more than 200 companies, nearly 11,000 jobs and one of the Top 10 auto importing sites in North America, Quonset Business Park is a major driver of Rhode Island’s economy.  Recently, the Park has received recognition on the national level that reflects Quonset’s role as a key driver of the regional economy. 

The New York Times published an extensive piece “Quonset Makes a New Name for Itself in Business,” in its Business Section in March.   The article highlighted Quonset’s “rebirth” as “a new little city of varied companies” with a bright future.  The American Journal of Transportation recently recognized Quonset’s Port of Davisville as “the Biggest Small Port in the U.S.”   The article expressed that “the port’s size relative to larger brethren like New York/New Jersey, belies its real stature as one of the largest ro-ro ports in North America, and one of the very few with land to get even bigger.”

Quonset was also one of only two sites in the entire nation highlighted at this year’s U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) annual conference in Washington, D.C.  The EDA has invested $11 million in Quonset for four different projects since 2009.  This has resulted in a significant return on investment in both jobs and economic growth.   Public investments at Quonset, including grants from the EDA, have attracted more than $2 billion in private investment to the Park. 

At the annual conference, more than 850 attendees viewed a special video about Quonset’s growth and the impact the EDA has had at the Park.  You can watch the video on our website at www.quonset.com/EDA-Video.  Some of the VIPs in attendance included U.S. secretary of transportation Anthony Foxx, assistant secretary of commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams and chief operating officer for the Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine. Both U.S. senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse appear in the video.

Later this year, the J. Goodison Company will open a new shipyard with the largest marine travel lift in the Northeast onsite.  They will be investing more than $8 million in the property after a $6 million grant from EDA  was used to replace a damaged bulkhead.  The bulkhead along the Zarbo Ave. seawall had been built in 1941 and used throughout World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It had deteriorated over time and was seriously damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. As part of the project, the Quonset Development Corporation contributed $1.5 million in matching funds at no cost to the taxpayers.  Construction of the new bulkhead is now almost complete.

The Romano Vineyard Way Bridge was another EDA project highlighted in the video.  The project, which was completed on schedule and under budget in 2011, eliminated the “at grade” automobile crossing over the increasingly busy railroad tracks at Bailey and Davisville Roads. By improving safety and providing better connectivity within the Park, the Bridge has had a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of our tenants and created the opportunity for more growth.   

Recently, the QDC provided the EDA with a six year report on the Bridge and the private sector jobs and investment it encouraged.  Among the highlights was the Wide World of Indoor Sports (WWIS) complex, which sits beside the bridge. WWIS has already invested over $7 million in its business operations, created 88 jobs, and is putting the finishing touches on a 30,000 s/f expansion.   Other developments made possible by the bridge include Greencore USA, which has invested over $31 million and brought more than 400 jobs to the park since it opened its facility in 2015.   Similarly, Edesia Nutrition recently cut the ribbon on their new 85,000 s/f facility, which will bring another 85 jobs to the park. 

These businesses benefitting from our work with the EDA are just a few examples of how Quonset continues to attract investment and stimulates growth in Rhode Island’s private sector.   The QDC has made a long-standing commitment to improve our utility and transportation infrastructure – a strategy that continues to attract new businesses and create new jobs for Rhode Island.  As it turns out – it’s also a strategy that is garnering attention for Rhode Island on the national stage.

Steven King, PE, is the managing director of the Quonset Development Corp., North Kingstown.

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