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Governor Chafee Announces MOU between RIEDC and Roger Williams University Leveraging Rhode Island's Academic Assets and Focusing on Revitalizing Main Street Corridors in Providence and Woonsocket

RIEDC and Roger Williams University enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to partner on small business support and other community revitalization efforts while also providing RWU students with real-world experience

October 25, 2012 (Providence, R.I.) - Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced a formal partnership between the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) and Roger Williams University to provide business support and other community revitalization efforts within core urban Rhode Island communities. The partnership was celebrated at a State House event today attended by Governor Chafee, Roger Williams University President Donald J. Farish, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine and Paul McGreevy, Special Assistant to the Governor at EDC.

"A key economic development priority of my administration is the revitalization of Rhode Island's urban communities, especially our main streets in Providence, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and West Warwick," said Governor Chafee. "By engaging our educational institutions, we can begin to more actively utilize the skills and expertise of the excellent educational institutions within Rhode Island and also tap into the bright minds of our students for the good of the state's economy."

Providence and Woonsocket are the cities selected for pilot programs for the RIEDC and Community Partnerships Center at Roger Williams University with a focus on revitalization efforts on Broad Street in the South Providence and Elmwood neighborhoods as well as Downtown Woonsocket along Main Street. This experience provides a setting in which students gain real-world experience through ongoing curriculum-based projects. Details of the three phased projects for both communities are attached.

"The opportunity to partner on these revitalization projects illustrates precisely what we intended when we launched the Community Partnerships Center at Roger Williams University," said President Farish. "For local leaders in these communities, it means expertise and assistance in solving critical issues; for our students, it means engagement in real-world projects with the chance to build relationships and gain job-ready skills that will distinguish them in the eyes of future employers."

"The City of Providence is delighted to take part in this initiative, partnering students with government and non-profit agencies to provide free technical assistance to the business owners along Broad Street," said Mayor Taveras. "Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, providing jobs for residents, services and goods for the community, and quality of life to our neighborhoods. This program - the first of its kind in Rhode Island - will give students hands-on learning experience while supporting the hard work of these small businesses."

"I am very grateful to Roger Williams University for providing the City of Woonsocket with this extraordinary opportunity to benefit from the expertise and energy of its faculty and students," said Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine, "The City has put in place a broad and deep cooperative effort with dedicated organizational partners and active community involvement to deal with the many discrete challenges posed by our Main Street area. We have relied upon several outside sources of help, and I am pleased that this step with Roger Williams is potentially the longest term and most in-depth partnership to date. My Administration is determined not have any more studies on the shelf, we are looking to take concrete actions supported by good thinking, and thus, this practical involvement on the part of Roger Williams is invaluable and essential."

About RWU: Roger Williams University, located in Bristol, R.I., is a leading independent, coeducational university with programs in the liberal arts and the professions, where students become community- and globally-minded citizens through project-based, experiential learning. Offering 43 majors and a plethora of co-curricular activities as well as study abroad options, RWU is dedicated to the success of students, commitment to a set of core values, the pursuit of affordable excellence and to providing a relevant, world-class education above all else. In the last decade, the University has achieved unprecedented successes including recognition as one of the best colleges in the nation by Forbes, a College of Distinction by Student Horizons, Inc. and as both a best college in the Northeast and one of the nation's greenest universities by The Princeton Review.

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