atrubia@ricentral.com

This week, the Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor announced the first round of awards from the Site Readiness Program, allocating over $800,000 across 11 municipalities in the state. The program, which was formed in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s fiscal year 2020 budget and supported by the General Assembly, is designed to partner Rhode Island Commerce with municipalities, companies and developers to improve development processes throughout the state. 

Funding was available in two categories: site-specific improvements and municipal assistance. 

Locally, the municipalities and companies to receive awards from the program were North Kingstown, Exeter and Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc. in Quonset. 

Raimondo said she was thrilled to announce the first round of site readiness awards. 

“These projects will spur economic growth and make nearly 300 acres of land across our state ready for potential development,” Raimondo added. 

And Pryor said that, all across Rhode Island, cities and towns will “soon be unlocking economic activity through the Governor’s new site readiness program.” 

“With a series of modest but important investments, this initiative is helping to prepare sites for a range of development–from industrial to residential to wind energy-related projects,” Pryor said. “We thank Governor Raimondo for her leadership and the General Assembly for their support.”

The grant for Exeter, totaling up to $50,000, will go toward an investigation into a potential 150-acre site at the intersection of routes 102 and 3, ultimately preparing for a zoning overlay district to streamline development. Specifically, the grant funding will be used to hire a consultant to conduct geographic information system analysis and a high-level market study, as well as to draft a zoning overlay district. 

North Kingstown, on the other hand, will receive $15,000 for a study to identify redevelopment sites, while also conducting an audit and review of the area’s existing regulatory framework. The study is intended to lead to the recommendation of new regulatory language and processes to expedite development. 

And Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc. will use its $30,000 grant to pursue an expansion of its offshore wind services in Quonset Point and down the East Coast. The grant funding will be used to support a third of the total permitting costs for the project. The process must include permitting from the Coastal Resources Management Council, Department of Environmental Management, and Army Core of Engineers, as stipulated by the grant. 

“Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s Quonset Point Facility is ideally located to support the offshore wind industry,” the announcement for the site readiness awards stated. “[I]n order to support this industry growth, shoreside investment in Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s terminal facility is needed.” 

More than 20 applications were received by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, totaling $4.4 million in requests for site readiness assistance. In the end, 15 projects were chosen for funding, totaling more than $800,000 in grants. 

“The awards announced today take into account the readiness of the project to proceed, the potential catalytic impact of the project, and the extent the project involves additional, private investments or matched funds,” the announcement concludes.  Some of the other municipalities chosen for awards include Central Falls, Woonsocket, North Smithfield, Smithfield and Westerly, along with several companies located throughout the state. 

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