Updated May 28 at 9:28pm

Toray commits $2 million to build new URI engineering facility

Toray Plastics (America) Inc., the North Kingstown-based manufacturer of polypropylene films, has pledged $2 million toward a $125 million capital project to overhaul the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering facilities. More

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Toray commits $2 million to build new URI engineering facility

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Toray Plastics (America) Inc., the North Kingstown-based manufacturer of polypropylene films, has pledged $2 million toward a $125 million capital project to overhaul the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering facilities.

Toray’s commitment represents the project’s first corporate pledge, according to URI, which is currently in the early stages of seeking taxpayer approval for the planned demolition and construction. URI will go before the House Committee on Finance on Wednesday to make the case for a public referendum to approve or reject the project, said URI spokesman Todd McLeish.

Toray’s pledge is contingent on the passage of a bond referendum that would be decided by Rhode Island voters in November.

“Our motto of ‘Innovation by Chemistry’ indicates our desire to grow our business here in Rhode Island, seeking new value-added enterprises,” said Richard Schloesser, president and CEO of Toray. “Currently, we employ over 100 engineers, close to 20 percent of our total workforce. We look forward to these new facilities that will attract the highest quality engineering candidates and upgrade the University of Rhode Island’s competitive position.”

The proposed 195,000-square-foot building would replace five outdated existing buildings on URI’s campus in South Kingstown, which were constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s and have not undergone any major improvements in more than 50 years.

According to Ray Wright, dean of the URI College of Engineering, the new building would significantly enhance URI’s competitiveness in attracting research opportunities and high-caliber faculty and students.

“This investment in new state-of-the-art engineering facilities is critical not just for the university but also for Rhode Island and its economy,” said Wright.

The building would accommodate a projected 18 percent increase in student enrollment at the College of Engineering, which saw its number of undergraduates climb 22 percent in the four years between 2008 and 2012. URI’s biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial and systems, and mechanical engineering programs would all be housed within the new structure.

“URI engineers are innovators at the frontiers of their disciplines and are a crucial part of the state’s economic revitalization,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “Toray’s support will help to elevate the quality of our engineering teaching and research, which will help us attract top students and faculty and lead to an even greater contribution to economic development in Rhode Island.”

Toray Plastics America Inc., University of Rhode Island, URI College of Engineering, Richard Schloesser, Ray Wright, David M. Dooley,

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