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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – A three-year study by a special legislative commission recommends the state create a marketing program to grow the economy of its seaports at Providence, Davisville in North Kingstown and Newport.
If its recommendations are enacted, the commission estimates the ports would generate an additional 1,000 jobs, $70 million in personal income, $127 million in business revenue and $8.1 million in state and local tax revenues.
Formed by the General Assembly in 2009, the Port Commission advocates the creation of a Rhode Island Port Marketing Collaborative. Its role would be to create an opportunity for port facilities, economic development agencies and governmental entities to work in concert to develop and coordinate economic progams.
The commission also recommends Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee appoint a port economic policy ombudsperson to be responsible for oversight of implementing development, and that funding should come from the governor’s current budget.
On Tuesday afternoon the Port Commission released its report, the objective of which was to study the potential economic opportunities available should the state’s port facilities be further developed. Currently, Rhode Island’s port-related economy employs more than 3,600 people, generates more than $320 million in economic activity and provides annual tax revenue in excess of $25 million.
According to the study, the presence of auto imports and exports at the ports of Davisville and Providence has increased over the last several years but still has potential for further growth. Additional opportunities exist in bulk imports, particularly with perishable goods. Opportunities related to offshore wind support facilities and shipping container operations also exist but are dependent on external factors.
In order to promote the ports, the state is also urged to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration to officially include them as official participating destination ports on the Marine Highway Corridor.
It is also suggested that the governor’s office explore potential public/private partnership opportunities. In order to provide these opportunities, maintenance and dredging would be required at both Providence and Davisville.