PROVIDENCE – More than 100 Rhode Island residents, business owners, state officials, local planners and lawmakers gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday night to kick off RhodeMap RI, a year-long project to create statewide economic development and housing plans that link with strategies for future development, transportation, land use and the environment.
The project is a $2.3 million initiative funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grants are designed to mobilize state and community resources to improve the economy of the state and the quality of life of its residents by implementing long-term, comprehensive plans over the next 10 to 20 years.
“RhodeMap RI is a unique effort for Rhode Island,” Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said in repared remarks. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for the state to plan for its future in a comprehensive manner, recognizing that the issues of economic development, housing and development are all interconnected and must be addressed as such.”
Led by the Horsley Witten consulting team, the attendees gathered in small groups after a project overview in order to discuss potential ideas for weaving together policies for economic development, housing and environmental issues that would allow Rhode Island to “be efficient with its investments and avoid the common pitfalls of planning these issues separately,” said a release.
The release added that the initiative plans to place a high priority on issues of social equity, “a challenge often ignored in state-level planning across the country.”
Thursday’s meeting represented the “first of many,” according to the evening’s facilitators. “This was a great way to start such an important project.” Kevin Flynn, director of the R.I. Division of Planning, said in prepared remarks. “We’re looking forward to reaching out to as many people as we can so that the policies we develop reflect the reality of Rhode Island today.”