BOSTON — North Kingstown will receive technical assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement “smart growth” strategies to improve the economy, boost job creation and protect health and the environment, the EPA announced Thursday.
The town is one of only three in the U.S. to be awarded assistance, along with Mississippi County, Ark. and Kelso, Wash. The EPA chose the three recipients from a pool of 79 applicants.
“Our smart growth assistance is designed to help communities develop new economic opportunities, while also protecting our environment and the health and quality of life for local citizens,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator for the EPA’s New England office, said in prepared remarks.
In the wake of severe floods in 2010 and the coastal destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, many Rhode Islanders raised concerns about the impact of such a fickle environment on economic activity as a result of highway flooding and damage to tourism spots.
Through the Smart Growth program, the EPA will aid the R.I. Division of Planning in gauging the impact of climate change on jobs, revenue and economic assets in North Kingstown.
The goal, according to an EPA release, is to build a framework of strategies that enhance the town’s economic resiliency in the face of climate change by guaranteeing certain measures of preparation and economic security in times of environmental uncertainty.
Project partners intend to gather state and local officials, business owners and workers of North Kingstown in developing these strategies, initially building upon a pilot analysis of the town.
“This EPA Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project offers a unique interface between climate change research and economic growth needs,” Paige Bronk, economic development manager for the town of North Kingstown, said in prepared remarks.
“North Kingstown experiences both benefits and risks from its coastal location,” added Bronk. “This project will assist businesses to strategize about location and growth to reduce liability and operational issues while North Kingstown positions its future economy.”
Since 2005, the EPA has supported 36 Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects that served 49 communities. The program is coordinated through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an inter-agency effort by the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation.