Providence Working Waterfront Alliance member Ellis Waldman of Walco Electric has an op-ed in today’s Providence Journal about how the city’s new comprehensive plan could drive out established businesses and good jobs:

Today, we struggle to bring new businesses into Rhode Island; we even struggle to agree on how to develop Quonset Point, with its unique characteristics, farther to the south. The Allens Avenue area from the Port of Providence to the Route 195 overpass has been stable for a long time. It hosts long-established companies, not just those requiring the river, whose activities cannot be scooted off to China, India or any other low-cost labor supplier — companies that employ hundreds of people.

Furthermore, the docks, the Providence River channel and the railroad spurs are resources that will no doubt be needed in years ahead as the cargo and freight industries in the U.S. continue their rapid growth. Indeed, the Port of Providence, including Allens Avenue, already has what we are trying to create in other parts of the state with enormous difficulty.

Why give that up? Why chase those jobs away? Why run the risk of pushing these companies out of Providence and the state? Can Providence really afford to lose jobs and businesses that could otherwise remain or be attracted to this area?

Not easily, I suspect. Worse, for those of us along the “working waterfront” who do not specifically need the Providence River for our business, we would have little incentive to relocate in Providence if this ill-conceived plan displaced us. Why? Because there is very little city space zoned for our type of industry.

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