WalaskaState Senator and port study commission co-chair William Walaska recently addressed the Providence Propeller Club and talked about the importance of protecting and expanding Rhode Island’s port and water-dependent businesses:

During hearings of the commission and as a result of tours of port facilities around the state, Senator Walaska told the Propeller Club gathering in East Providence, “members became better educated about the opportunities and challenges faced in the maritime industry (and are) very supportive of not only maintaining existing port activities but also identifying ways to expand and provide new opportunities for water dependent businesses to relocate to Rhode Island’s waterfront and grow our maritime jobs base.”

Senator Walaska told the organization that the commission, which issued an interim report earlier this year, is planning more hearings in the coming months. Among the areas that will be under study, he said, are a strategic plan for the state’s port facilities; a review of channel maintenance dredging requirements and considerations; development of a Marine Highway System hub in Rhode Island in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and coordination of state efforts to expand maritime commerce with municipal land use regulations.

“It is critical during these difficult economic times for Rhode Island to work in partnership with port managers and water dependent business owners,” he said. “These partnerships should promote all of Rhode Island’s waterfront assets in a way that will increase job opportunities for the thousands of Rhode Islanders now unemployed or underemployed.”

“The Ocean State’s history is deeply rooted to the working waterfronts of the state and I expect the work of the commission will continue this tradition for the benefit of the state’s residents and businesses,” he said.

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