USA: Joint Legislative Commission Issues Final Report on Port Study

Finishing nearly three years of study on the potential economic opportunities associated with Rhode Island’s ports, a Joint Legislative Commission reported today that development of port infrastructure and growth of maritime industries can result in 1,000 new jobs, $70 million in personal income, $127 million in business revenue and $8.1 million in state and local tax revenues in the near future.

The Special Legislative Commission to Study Potential Economic Opportunities in the Development of Port Facilities in Rhode Island today issued its final report which makes several major recommendations that resulted from 11 meetings, three port tours and more than 40 hours of testimony.

The future success in developing potential port related economic opportunities in Rhode Island is dependent on focused coordination and cooperation among key stakeholders in government as well as private sector owners, operators and investors,” the final report concludes.

Created by a joint resolution adopted by the 2009 General Assembly, the commission listed six major findings and recommendations:

– That the commission’s efforts become an integral part of the governor’s and Economic Development Corporation’s agenda through the creation of a Governor’s Port Economic Policy Ombudsperson charged with port economic policy implementation so that the state can move forward toward creating more than 1,000 new maritime related jobs.

– It is critical to address the lack of coordination between various governmental and non-governmental stakeholders with respect to marketing and infrastructure development of the state’s ports, related facilities and maritime trade.

– Development of a “Marine Highway System” hub(s) in Rhode Island in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

– Explore public/private partnership opportunities to further infrastructure investment and business development of Davisville.

– Formulation and execution of a non-federal funding dredging project for Davisville as well as funding for the permitting of new CAD cell sites in the Providence River.

– Revision of Rhode Island’s Statewide Master Guide Plan in order to specifically identify and maintain vital water dependent commercial operations and ensure the viability of Rhode Island’s marine economy.

In creating the study commission, Senate and House leadership acknowledged that Rhode Island is already one of the major ports of entry for autos in the Northeast and that Narragansett Bay has the potential to be a major economic engine for the state because it is one of the nation’s largest protected waterways and is close to the most densely populated regions in the nation.

The commission, in its report, said that during the past six decades, the state’s port and marine activity had fallen well behind others along the Atlantic coast. Despite that, the state’s port-related economy today employs more than 3,600 people, generates more than $320 million in economic activity and provides annual tax revenues exceeding $25 million.


Dredging Today Staff, February 15, 2012