Boat to recovery

April 21st, 2008

Today’s Providence Journal has an editorial about Kelly Space & Technology’s decision to locate their new small armored boat building facility here in Rhode Island due to the advantages of our state’s maritime resources:

Part of the lure is Rhode Island’s boat-building know-how and its proximity to defense contractors. The state’s Business Innovation Factory, a nonprofit company that seeks to promote innovative companies, has also helped to promote the state, as has an important KST employee, a retired member of Navy special forces who is from Rhode Island.

The state should work hard to make sure that the company can find its building and get going with boatbuilding. Manufacturing jobs tend to be high-paying and help to encourage further economic activity throughout the region. Service-sector jobs (with the exception of such professions as medicine, the law and accounting) generally pay poorly.

It makes sense that Rhode Island’s natural advantages as a maritime location would be part of its economic strength. That’s something that the state should do much more to exploit — by fully realizing its potential for port activity, both in Providence and at Quonset Point, instead of surrendering these vital resources to condo-mania (looking ever sillier these days) and yet more ugly, sprawl-inducing big-box stores surrounded by windswept parking lots.

If properly protected and promoted, the Port of Providence will be ideally situated to attract similar innovative marine-industrial businesses.

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