With the economic-development plan that he unveiled last week, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has sent a message – it’s time to stop playing defense and move forward. Growth is the shot in the arm that cures deficits and starts self-sustaining, virtuous cycles.
Two of the five key points of his plan – freezing the commercial tax rate, fixing the city’s permitting process, removing barriers to redevelopment, developing surface lots citywide and reinventing Kennedy Plaza –deserve a little extra scrutiny.
Freezing the commercial tax rate is a big deal. Developers could never be sure what their costs would be given the mess of city finances over the last two years. This initiative takes that issue off the table.
Fixing the city’s permitting process is not so simple. The mayor is putting two new inspectors in the budget, as well as moving the application process online. But it’s not just the process that hamstrings projects, it is the people executing the regulations as well. If the mayor truly wants the city to move forward, he needs to take care who the city hires for these important, new jobs. •