One way to stimulate the Rhode Island economy and attract more business to the state is to make it easier for companies to set up shop so that more Rhode Islanders can get back to work.
Last week, convenience food manufacturer Greencore USA announced their plans to construct a 107,000-square-foot facility – resulting in almost 400 new jobs – in Rhode Island at the Quonset Business Park. So why did Greencore choose Rhode Island?
This opportunity became a reality because we have invested in our state assets at Quonset and created the regulatory conditions where Greencore could get their new facility up and running in months, not years.
Because of the close partnership of CommerceRI, the town of North Kingstown and a dedicated team of professionals at the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), we were successful in differentiating our location from other competitors in the northeast. A combination of unparalleled infrastructure assets at Quonset, performance-based lease incentives, competitive operating costs, and a welcoming and predictable regulatory environment helped seal the deal.
Frankly, there was nowhere else in New England that offered a quicker path to development than Quonset Business Park. The Quonset Development Corporation’s Site Readiness program, launched more than two years ago, has removed the red tape, uncertainty and delays a business might find when trying to develop a new facility.
This type of business-friendly preparation creates an enormous advantage for Rhode Island.
Site readiness means that the QDC has completed all the permitting and engineering that a developer would need to get a project under way. The success of the Site Readiness program is due in part to the collaboration with various state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Management and the Coastal Resources Management Council. These agencies were instrumental in securing all the baseline permits that a new business would need to develop a parcel. As a result, Greencore will be able to break ground on their facility by May 1 of this year.
Quonset offers a great lesson on how Rhode Island can be successful in improving the health of its economy. Just like with the QDC’s Site Readiness program, one of the most important things we can do is to continue to create a clear, predictable and reliable regulatory system to advance the competitiveness of Rhode Island businesses while protecting the health, safety and quality of life of our citizens.
This isn’t about one person, one agency, one institution, one idea, one program or one plan changing the state’s economic landscape. It’s about a fundamental change in the way the Rhode Island community thinks and acts to support thriving companies and create better economic opportunity for all our citizens.
We can do this.
Marcel A. Valois is the executive director of Commerce RI.