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By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
(Updated, 10:14 a.m.)
NORTH KINGSTOWN – U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin on Monday announced a new $800,000 federal grant for infrastructure upgrades at the Port of Davisville designed to increase Rhode Island’s port capacity and improve cargo shipment flexibility for companies headquartered in Quonset Business Park.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will support a $1.6 million project to install new marine hardware at port terminals four and five, which were constructed in 2011 with U.S. Department of Transportation funding.
Ted Kresse, a spokesman for Quonset Development Corporation, said the upgrades will provide an additional 650 feet of berthing space at the Port of Davisville for vessels up to 250 feet in length. Currently, the Port of Davisville offers 4,500 feet of berthing space.
“These funds will help accommodate more vessels, and ultimately more cargo and more jobs here in Rhode Island,” said Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees EDA grant programs. “I am pleased to have helped make these funds available, proud to have supported the Quonset Development Corporation’s grant application, and commend EDA for approving it.”
Quonset Business Park is currently home to more than 175 companies employing approximately 9,500 people in full- and part-time jobs. Last month, international food manufacturer Greencore USA entered a new 50-year lease at Quonset with plans to employ nearly 400 people at the facility it plans to build there this year.
A 2012 economic impact study by Massachusetts consulting firm FXM Associates estimated that the EDA investment and other recent upgrades in port infrastructure will create about 90 jobs and increase business outputs by a projected $12 million.
“This federal investment will build on the work Quonset is already doing to position itself as hub for clean energy jobs in our state,” said Whitehouse in a release.
In a Monday news release, the EDA said Rhode Island startups in the wind energy industry will benefit from expanded shipping opportunities and improved supply-chain efficiency made possible through the Port of Davisville project.
The $800,000 grant is the latest in a series of EDA-funded infrastructure improvements in Rhode Island. In 2013, the EDA announced a $2.9 million grant to rehabilitate critical infrastructure at the Port of Galilee in Narragansett to ensure the long-term stability of the state’s $200 million commercial fishing industry and tourism sector, as well as to spur economic development and new investment in the region.
A year earlier, in 2012, the EDA invested $6 million in the Quonset Development Corporation and the R.I. Department of Transportation to fund reconstruction of the Zarbo Avenue Bulkhead at Quonset Business Park.
“EDA’s continued investments to improve Rhode Island’s critical port facilities are working to grow the economy of the region,” said Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for the EDA. “This investment will increase business output for the area by increasing the number of vessels the Port of Davisville can serve.”