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National Firm Selected to Perform Economic Data Analysis as Part of Sustainable Communities Initiative

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced the next action step in a multi-agency effort over the next two years to develop an integrated approach for the state to land use, transportation, housing, and economic development. Through an open Request for Proposals (RFP) issued November 7, 2012 by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), in collaboration with the Division of Planning's Statewide Planning Program, Rhode Island has selected a consulting team to compile economic data, analyze the state's regional performance, and identify strengths and possible ways to improve Rhode Island's economy.

The study of the state's business climate is already underway and is a critical first step as part of Rhode Island's federally funded Sustainable Communities initiative. The economic data and assessment results are expected to be received in a report and series of recommendations in February 2013. The data-driven analysis will be the basis to help the state to better understand Rhode Island's recent business climate rankings and find ways to improve.

The RIEDC and the Division of Planning issued the RFP as part of a broader $1.9 million initiative, funded by a grant from the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, to mobilize state and community resources to improve the economy and quality of life for all Rhode Islanders. The effort is aimed at building a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Rhode Island through a series of strategic actions steps in the short term and the implementation of long-term, comprehensive plans over 10 to 20 years.

A multi-agency review committee selected Fourth Economy Consulting for the economic data analysis and assessment project. Fourth Economy Consulting is a national economic development consulting firm specializing in market analytics, strategic planning, site selection, community assessments and organization building. Fourth Economy Consulting is partnering on the project with Providence–based Britt Page Consulting and Kevin McAvey of Economic Partners, Inc.

"As we work collaboratively to identify the most promising path to a prosperous future, we must understand how Rhode Island fits into our regional economy, what our strengths are, and where we can improve," Governor Chafee said. "By February, we will have the data analysis to inform our decisions about how to use our assets wisely to improve the state's economic climate in ways that make a real difference for all Rhode Islanders."

"Through a highly competitive process, Fourth Economy Consulting emerged as the team of choice due to their experience and thoughtful approach," said Bill Parsons, RIEDC Managing Director of Business and Community Development. "Having the independent economic data to assess our state's regional performance will be an important part of helping us to better direct our resources in the short- and long-term and to uniting the efforts of multiple state agencies and community partners to bring Rhode Island the best chance of success."

"The economic data analysis will feed directly into our efforts to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy that integrates economic development, land use, housing, environmental issues, and transportation," said Kevin Flynn, Director of the Division of Planning. "We have an opportunity to take a new approach that unites the efforts of multiple state agencies and community partners in order to create a stronger more equitable Rhode Island."

"The timing for Rhode Island to be engaging in this work is perfect," said Rich Overmoyer, CEO at Fourth Economy Consulting. "Following the great recession, many throughout the economic development sector are looking for better solutions and more sustainable approaches to supporting business and job creation. Rhode Island can learn from the collective experience and pioneer efforts that uniquely support businesses and communities in the state."

As part of a 19-member Rhode Island Sustainable Communities Consortium, the RIEDC, Rhode Island Departments of Environmental Management, and Transportation, and other state, municipal, and non-profit partners have joined the Division of Planning in leading this effort.

The Economic Data Analysis and Assessment will cover five areas:

1.Business Climate Analysis: Analyze existing reports and compare Rhode Island's rankings regionally. Break out the indicators used in these rankings to get a better understanding of what these indicators actually mean for the state.

2.Targeted Cluster Analysis and Validation: Identify existing industry clusters and provide insight into emerging opportunities for growth in the coming years.

3.State Regulatory Environment: In coordination with the Office of Regulatory Reform assess the State's existing regulatory environment by identifying existing strengths as well as inefficiencies and inconsistencies within current regulations.

4.Financial Resource Assessment: Inventory and evaluate existing capital programs from federal, state and municipal sources. Identify gaps in financing.

5.Marketing Analysis: Identify and assess existing state, regional, and municipal business marketing efforts. The analysis should consider the various entities responsible for marketing, the messages conveyed and the target audiences.

To view the presentation, visit:

About Fourth Economy Consulting The Fourth Economy Team performs all aspects of the desired tasks for communities throughout the country. Members of the team have conducted county-by-county and state-by-state economic analysis as well as community tailored projects that get down to the action level. The Fourth Economy Team are now consultants, but they have served economic development roles at a state, regional, local and community level, as well as contributed to the profession through work at national research organizations and in academia. Fourth Economy Consulting has pioneered research work under the Fourth Economy Community Index, which ranks every county in the country across factors that measure a county's potential for sustainable development; these factors match well to the priorities of the Sustainable Communities initiative.

About Sustainable Communities Grant This grant is one of several offered through the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program supports metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments. Rhode Island will develop the comprehensive, integrated plan through an inclusive public process with an eye towards positive and equitable impacts for all Rhode Islanders. The grant consortium of 19 member organizations is represented by state agencies, municipalities and non-profit organizations.

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