John G. Laramee: Successes at Quonset

As a board member of the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), I want to thank Ken and Jo Yellis for their thoughtful Nov. 7 column, “Brooklyn Navy Yard model for Quonset.” I also have good news for them: Nearly all of what they wish for Quonset is already there.

All Rhode Islanders should be proud that on the most important standard — employment — Quonset is significantly more successful than the Brooklyn Navy Yard. At the Quonset Business Park 168 businesses employ over 8,800 people — that’s one out of every 50 jobs in the whole state! In contrast, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has 5,000 jobs.

We applaud the Yard for attracting green industries and jobs while modeling sustainable practices. Quonset is doing the same thing.

Many are aware of our successful effort to secure $22 million in federal infrastructure grants, which will enhance our attractiveness to wind and other renewable-energy firms. Meanwhile, the Gateway at Quonset is home to a LEED-certified (green) Kohl’s while the QDC’s own office and maintenance facilities are equipped with an array of sustainable amenities. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

Furthermore, with its geothermal-heating system and recycled materials, the 103-room Towne Place Suites by Marriott being constructed is poised to become Rhode Island’s first LEED-certified hotel!

The Yellises are right that Quonset should have a job-training center (we do!), and a visitor center with leasable space (that too!). It’s true that we can’t dock an aircraft carrier/museum, but for a very good reason. Our auto port, which just added large contracts with Ford and Porsche, is one of the top 10 auto importers in North America and space is at a premium. We are, however, proud to host the Quonset Seabee Museum, right next to the Quonset Gateway, our very popular bike path and four beaches.

Many Rhode Islanders have toured Quonset, including all the major candidates for governor in the recent election.

They have all offered words of praise for the progress we have made in the last five years. I would be glad to invite the Yellises — and other interested Rhode Islanders — to take the Quonset tour and see how the Business Park has become an economic engine and environmental leader in which all Rhode Islanders can take justifiable pride.

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