Pawtucket Foundation chief to leave for Indiana

PAWTUCKET – Rich Davis, the Pawtucket Foundation’s executive director since April 2001, will be leaving this April to become president of the Downtown Improvement District in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Pawtucket Foundation, a private-sector policy group, was formed to give businesses and nonprofit groups a voice in local development efforts.
During Davis’ tenure, it has developed a community-based agenda for downtown revitalization. It has completed a Riverfront Redevelopment Plan; a master plan for the redevelopment of Roosevelt Avenue; and plans to develop downtown parking and bring the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail service back to the city.
It has advocated for stronger state oversight of solid waste transport and disposal. And, together with the City of Pawtucket and the R.I. Attorney General’s Office, it has joined in legal action – now pending before the R.I. Supreme Court – to oppose the planned construction of a 2,000-ton-per-day trash transfer plant at a downtown rail yard.
In addition, it has helped establish the Northern Rhode Island Tri-Communities Coalition – a partnership of 10 public agencies, foundations and stakeholders from the business community seeking to develop a regional planning and economic-development strategy for Pawtucket, Central Falls and Cumberland. (READ MORE.)
The Pawtucket Foundation’s efforts to preserve and redevelop historic structures – including the historic Pawtucket-Central Falls rail station – were honored with a 2005 Merit Award from Preserve Rhode Island, which cited the group’s commitment “to defending historic properties, finding sensitive developers, and providing the tools, resources, and municipal assistance needed to make these projects economically viable.”
“This organization has assumed a role of service, and showed that it really cares not only about future development issues but about the community’s well-being and sense of place,” Davis said.
Before joining the Pawtucket Foundation as its first executive director, Davis had served as executive director of the downtown management district and redevelopment agency Intown Manchester, in Manchester, N.H., from 1996 to 2001. Since then, he also has served as a trustee of the Pawtucket Public Library; a board member for the YMCA, the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, the Slater Mill Association and Mixed Magic Theatre; and a member of the Friends of the Moshassuck, a local environmental group.
“When I came on board in 2001, the Pawtucket Foundation said that it would build a capability to provide leadership and technical assistance to community organizations, community leaders and city officials, in community planning and development efforts,” Davis recalled.
“I’d like to think that the Foundation has been successful … and I’m glad to have been the director during this exciting time in the community’s redevelopment.”
The foundation is currently planning for its fifth annual Awards Celebration, on April 1, and its fifth Pawtucket Proud Day, a June event in which corporate and citizen volunteers team up with city personnel to clean and beautify portions of the city.
“In addition to laying the groundwork for some major developments, like the commuter rail station, Rich Davis brought our organization to maturity on a sound footing,” John J. Partridge, co-chairman of the foundation, said in a statement yesterday afternoon.
“When the foundation recruited him in 2001, we believed that he would make a positive difference in the community, which he has done. Speaking for Co-Chairman Dan Sullivan and the board of directors, we will miss him and wish him well in his new venture.”
The Pawtucket Foundation – a policy group representing the business and nonprofit sectors – was established to encourage economic development and reinvestment in Pawtucket and Central Falls and advocate for downtown, river and gateway improvements. It is a partner in the Northern Rhode Island Tri-Communities Coalition. To learn more, visit www.pawtucketfoundation.org.

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