By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer
The path from Jewelry District to Knowledge District took a detour this spring.
First a Providence budget crisis and fears of bankruptcy prompted the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to pull out of a public-private partnership to market the Capital City as a knowledge and research hub.
Then, Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios LLC collapsed, removing the city from the video game design landscape and ending hopes that the company’s success could attract a cluster of gaming-related activity in Providence.
The potential loss of $75 million, plus interest, on the taxpayer-backed loan used to bring 38 Studios here has sent Rhode Island’s public-sector economic-development efforts into retrenchment as Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee implements a more conservative job-creation strategy.
Even more recently, the future for the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at One Davol Square was called into question after Brown University laid off staff as it seeks new funding partners.
And on the last day of May, House Democratic leaders cut a proposed University of Rhode Island-Rhode Island College advanced nursing center proposed for the Knowledge District from the fiscal 2013 budget.
Proponents of the nursing center had hoped that, in addition to helping alleviate a growing shortage of trained nurses in the state, the project would kick off development of the former Interstate 195 land, the future backbone of the Knowledge District.
“I do think it’s a blow, a missed opportunity,” said Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission Chairman Colin Kane about the nursing center. “I am a proponent of centering our medical-training resources in one place, where the hospitals are and where Johnson & Wales University’s new physician-assistant school will be. We always have next year.”
House Democratic leaders said the $65.2 million in borrowing in Chafee’s budget for the nursing center was left out because of confusion about whether it would involve a public-private partnership or straight taxpayer financing.