With infrastructure development as a key driver of economic development and job growth, RIEDC Chairperson Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the Board of Directors approved up to $42 million in a bond for the purchase and development of the I-195 surplus land to act as a catalyst for knowledge-based industries and jobs.
The Board also approved measures to enhance the expansion of the State's harbors and ports, including a $7.5 million bond on behalf of the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) for a dredging project at the Port of Davisville that will allow for increased activity at the port, currently the 7th largest auto importer in North America, and an agreement with ProvPort that would allow for enhanced financing to leverage a $10.5 million federal TIGER grant to provide 2 cranes and 2 barges.
"Government plays a critical role in building and improving our physical infrastructure to support growth," said Governor Chafee. "By approving these measures to fund the development of the surplus land in the Knowledge District and improving our State's port capacity at both the Port of Davisville and ProvPort, we have made wise investments that will have long lasting impact."
"With the bond approval, the I-195 Commission now has the financial ability to acquire the land and provide DOT with the ability to initiate the final and critically important phase of the I-Way project – reconnection of city streets and infrastructure," said Colin Kane, Chair of the I-195 Commission. "More importantly, we want to get shovels in the ground and cranes in the sky,"
With tonight's approval, the I-195 Commission in conjunction with the RIEDC can move towards securing private financing for up to $42 million in bonds. The proceeds will finance the acquisition, management and administration of the surplus lands in order to support the vision to create a dynamic, mixed-use environment to support knowledge-based industries and jobs.
The QDC project, which entails dredging the channel depth adjacent to the Davisville piers to 32 feet, requires no taxpayer funding. The financial obligations for the dredging will be met completely by the QDC through operating funds at the Business Park and increased revenue from the Port. To support the dredging project, QDC projects annual debt service of approximately $900,000 over 10 years. The Davisville channel has not been dredged since its original construction in the 1940's.
"Quonset Business Park is home to more than 8,800 jobs at 168 companies and the Port of Davisville is now the 7th largest auto importer in North America. In order to maintain our momentum and continue our growth, this dredging project at the Port of Davisville, which comes at no cost to the taxpayers, is essential," said Steven J. King, PE, managing director of the QDC. "When the dredging is complete, the Port of Davisville will have the ability to continue to grow it's roll-on/roll-off business, and we can expand the Port's business in several other areas. We are extremely grateful to Governor Chafee, the General Assembly, and the EDC for their support, and we look forward to the project's completion in the Spring of 2013."
Under Governor Chafee's leadership, the ProvPort partnership with the RIEDC and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) allows the State to match a federal $10.5 million TIGER grant for two cranes and provides ProvPort the ability to obtain flexible private financing to fund the build out of two barges to support the cranes. With the cranes and barges, ProvPort can expand operations and support job creation.