Steering Committee announced to assist with economic-development strategy in Providence

PROVIDENCE MAYOR JORGE O. Elorza addresses the Steering Committee on Thursday. The committee will assist an economic consulting firm in conducting research for the city. He asked the committee to imagine what could be accomplished if everyone pulls together. / PBN PHOTO/ELI SHERMAN
PROVIDENCE MAYOR JORGE O. Elorza addresses the Steering Committee on Thursday. The committee will assist an economic consulting firm in conducting research for the city. He asked the committee to imagine what could be accomplished if everyone pulls together. / PBN PHOTO/ELI SHERMAN

PROVIDENCE – Providence City Council President Luis A. Aponte on Thursday announced a 28-member “Steering Committee,” comprised of city officials and local business leaders, who will assist an economic consulting firm in conducting research for the city.
The research, called a “cluster analysis,” is supposed to identify market resources and opportunities in the community using quantitative and qualitative data.
Heading the research is Pittsburgh, Pa.-based research firm Fourth Economy Consulting Inc.
The called-for work closely mirrors the analysis and report previously done by Fourth Economy Consulting for the state in 2013. Former Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee hired Fourth Economy Consulting to analyze economic development data for the state. The consulting firm boiled down input from more than 200 local business leaders into 21 ways the state could increase its competitive advantages. The priorities then were included in the highly controversial statewide planning initiative “RhodeMap RI.”
Rich Overmoyer, president and CEO of Fourth Economy Consulting, says there must be balance in their analysis when looking at opportunities to retain and grow existing economic assets, attract high value assets and understanding regional opportunities.
“You have to grow what you have here but look and be very specific about where the investment can come from,” Overmoyer said. “Certainly, in Providence, you have all the right raw material in being very successful and having a healthy growing economy, [but] how do we make sure we’re making the right, specific target investments to align those assets and really create a playing field for those people to invest.”
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, joined Aponte and the other committee members, who represent the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
The group listened to Fourth Economy Consulting present an overview of the plan. Aponte says this is an important step in the city’s overall economic development plan.
“Part of this conversation about cluster analysis is this theory of intentionality,” Aponte told the committee. “We need to think about the type of city we want to help create. We really want to understand where there are opportunities and areas to grow.”
The city hired Fourth Economy Consulting after members of its 2013-14 Providence Economic Development Task Force recommended conducting cluster analysis, “to identify industries with the potential for employment growth and use [the] information during the development of the city’s economic-development plan,” according to the Task Force final report submitted last April.
“Completion of a full cluster analysis will allow city policymakers to target programs and partnerships to bolster industries likely to grow in importance in the coming years,” according to the report. “The cluster analysis should take into consideration the potential for employment growth, wages and benefits paid, as well as the relationship between industries in Providence and those in the surrounding region.”
Elorza addressed the committee briefly, thanking its members and Aponte for his dedication to economic development. The first-year mayor recited a quote he’s heard often from Steinberg, who was sitting in the room, saying, “We can do anything, but we can’t do everything.”
“That means we have to be strategic, we have to prioritize so we can build off of our strengths and that’s exactly what this effort will help us do,” Elorza said.
Consultants and committee are expected to complete their work and subsequent report sometime in September. The next Steering Committee meeting is slated for the week of May 11 and will be held at Brown University.

- Advertisement -