Governor Introduces New Program that Fast Tracks Business Expansion to Create Jobs

Building on recent initiatives at Quonset and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) to make it easier to do business and improve regulatory and permitting processes in Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee joined with state officials and local business leaders today to launch two innovative site readiness programs aimed at fast-tracking land parcels for development, business expansion and job growth.

On March 26, 2012, Governor Chafee and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) RIEDC Board of Directors adopted a focused yet flexible work plan aimed at streamlining state and local regulatory processes to save companies time and money and accelerate the creation of jobs, while protecting the health, safety and quality of life for Rhode Island’s citizens.

“Helping businesses cut through the red tape with an easy to understand and predictable regulatory system is key to making Rhode Island an attractive place for companies to invest. These site readiness programs will keep Rhode Island ahead of the marketplace, anticipating what businesses need to keep growing here or come to our state and create more jobs,” Governor Chafee said. “By state agencies and municipalities working together to make it easier for companies to expand or relocate here, we will be able to continue to move our economy forward and be competitive.”

To highlight how an efficient and predictable regulatory environment can help revitalize the state’s economy, Governor Chafee unveiled Quonset Business Park’s new “Site-Readiness” program designed to attract new business to Quonset Business Park and create more jobs in Rhode Island. The Site-Readiness program was spearheaded by the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) to simplify and expedite the permitting process so that 35 pad-ready sites in the business park are ready for immediate development by future tenants.

The QDC initiative will serve as a model for a larger statewide “Rhode Island-Ready” demonstration project being developed by the RIEDC’s Office of Regulatory Reform. The Rhode Island-Ready project will reduce time and increase the predictability of getting land developed, buildings constructed and operations up and running. The initial demonstration project will target eight to ten parcels in urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.

The two programs will create an attractive inventory of pre-qualified sites ready for development to be branded and marketed regionally, nationally and internationally to companies looking to expand or relocate.

"Our goal was simple. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for a business to walk through our doors, see a site and show them they could begin development within weeks,” said Steven J. King, P.E., managing director of the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC). “Thanks to the DEM, CRMC, and Town of North Kingstown, most new tenants can begin construction within 90 days after taking control of their site.”

“Being able to present prospective employers with an inventory of marketable, pre-qualified sites that are ready to meet the demands of current and future commercial development opportunities will put Rhode Island ahead in the game when competing for new jobs,” said RIEDC executive director Keith Stokes. “Rhode Island-Ready is a critical part of our collaborative efforts, through the RIEDC’s Office of Regulatory Reform, to makes it easier to do business by developing a clear, predictable and reliable state and local regulatory system.”

The QDC partnered with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to pre-permit each parcel to meet environmental requirements. The QDC also worked with building and zoning experts to pre-engineer the parcels to anticipate likely uses for a variety of industries. As a result, a due diligence package has been prepared for each parcel that includes a complete review of the property. This package includes an environmental Phase I review, geotechnical soils review and borings, utility availability and capacity analysis, concept site plans and permits, and a land title review.

Through the Rhode Island-Ready program, the RIEDC will work with cities and towns, property owners, developers, state agencies, utility companies and other public and private partners to develop consistent standards for the availability and development of potential commercial and industrial sites. Using the QDC’s model, Rhode Island-Ready will simplify the development process, greatly reduce costs and time in site selection and relocation plans for companies and significantly improve Rhode Island’s competitive advantage.

Quonset Business Park is already considered one of the premiere business parks in New England and one of the largest in the Northeast. Quonset is home to 168 companies, employing more than 8,800 people in every sector of the economy. The 35 parcels announced today that have been pre-permitted and pre-engineered for immediate development are part of only 350 acres that remain available for development.

“It’s been great to see the collaboration between DEM’s Office of Customer and Technical Assistance and QDC to lay the groundwork so that these sites can be marketed to new companies as ready-to-go,” said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. “Having the necessary permits in hand up-front will help spur business development not only in Quonset but now statewide through the Rhode Island-Ready demonstration project.”

“Up-front environmental permitting to produce pad-ready sites and pre-qualify these areas makes all the sense in the world for major projects like this. It saves everyone time and resources and makes business investments more predictable,” said Grover J. Fugate, executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council.

“These are innovative programs that will put Rhode Island ahead of the competition and show the business community that Rhode Island is serious about being a pro-business state,” said Robert Baldwin, president of the Rhode Island Builders Association.

The launch of the Site-Readiness program comes at an exciting time for Quonset Business Park. In February, Governor Chafee announced that the Port of Davisville at Quonset Business Park had moved up to become the 7th largest auto importer in North America. Later this year a new Gottwald 7608 Mobile Harbor Crane is expected to arrive as part of the $22.3 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant funds that have been invested over the past year to improve the Port and Park.

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