SOUTH KINGSTOWN—The town council met Monday with the economic development committee to discuss the future of the town’s economic strategies, including the possibility of hiring an economic development coordinator.
Economic development committee members gave a presentation featuring potential areas for making improvements to the town—projects that could be implemented in order to attract people and businesses to South Kingstown.
The committee looked at Westerly and East Greenwich to help determine where South Kingstown could make improvements in order to attract visitors.
“We looked at what has been their success there in the past 10 years,” said committee vice chair Roland Fiore. “A lot of these little details are very basic. In East Greenwich, beautification is a big thing there. In Westerly, the sidewalks are fixed, and so forth, and so on.”
After speaking with community members, some projects that came up included adding taxi services, hiring a trolley to transport tourists, updating walking paths, enhancing existing town events and adding new events, including events to highlight the beauty of the Saugatucket River.
One of the most popular project possibilities among the town council members was planning for improvements to town services, including snow and rubbish removal.
Councilor Bryant Da Cruz said he would like to see attention paid to attracting new businesses to South Kingstown, and suggested utilizing the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center.
Town council vice president Abel Collins added that he’d like to see a vision for what types of businesses the town should aim to attract.
One recommendation made by the economic development committee was that the town hire an economic development coordinator to work full time on the items discussed.
“We’re at a precipice,” said economic development committee member Henry Thayer. “[South Kingstown] is an emerging economic candidate. If we had a full-time economic development coordinator, this momentum could continue on and build.”
Economic development committee chair Larry Fish said the committee has come up with a loose job description for the position.
Joanne Esposito, economic development committee member, added that having an economic development coordinator on town staff would be helpful in dictating what needs to be done and when within the town.
Collins and Da Cruz both agreed.
“I think that person needs to have good organizational skills,” Da Cruz said, “but also strong aptitude for marketing, because I think that’s going to be the most important piece.”
Town Manager Stephen Alfred said adding a full-time employee would be a costly endeavor.
“It’s not a cheap proposition to start out with,” he said. “The council would have to accept that and determine what resources it would allocate for that.”
Alfred added that it would be important for the town council to prioritize the suggested items in order to move forward with allocating existing resources.
“For me to be able to provide pricing my question for you would be, when you talk about our three-year or five-year phase in, which of the items would be the most important to see accomplished,” he said. “Then, I can put numbers behind that.”