June 28, 2007

ProJo's Perpetual Port Promotion: What Say You?

Marc Comtois

Another week, another pro-Port development editorial from the ProJo:

Port jobs pay exceptionally well and tend to be outsourcing-proof, since businesses must move goods to population centers, wherever they are produced. Further, the ports spin off other business, for which there is plenty of room at a place like Quonset Point, in manufacturing and services.

Rhode Island has an opportunity to develop a thriving port at Quonset Point, but Governor Carcieri and some other leaders have squelched it so far. The yacht-club set around Narragansett Bay did not want to share the water with a couple of big ships a week in the summer, even though this occurs without conflict in other parts of the country, where politicians better understand that new jobs are essential to a healthy state, providing the tax revenues to balance the budget and provide public services without, for instance, big budget deficits. And for that matter, the yachting season around here is not exactly year round.

It seems the height of foolishness that Rhode Island refuses to exploit its tremendous natural advantages as a strong site for a thriving port in the midst of the Northeastern megalopolis, but there you have it.

Though I wish otherwise, I don't think it's ever gonna happen. {Rank self-interest Alert! I work in the maritime industry.} I know a lot of people don't want a port for all of the known reasons--bay traffic, potential pollution, truck traffic, etc.--but they are countered by the economic arguments laid forth (often) by the ProJo. Keep in mind, it doesn't have to be a container port. It can be multi-cargo (cars, bulk and containers). There is a way to compromise.

For example, it looks like the current favorite plan for expanding T.F. Greene is an example of the sort of "90% solution" that may work (he said, holding his breath). A similar hashing out process could work when looking into a potential port in Quonset. It's time for some real cost-benefit analysis. Is their a way to have an economically successful port (ie; kinda big) that won't damage the "quality of life" of both the communities surrounding the port and the rest of Rhode Island?

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What 'quality of life' do you speak of? Being taxed to the point of leaving a home I love for a cheaper venue because nobody in this state has the friggin brains to properly run a state?

Posted by: Greg at June 28, 2007 9:39 AM

It's simple. It would be unwise to expend the considerable money and resources that such a project would require without a commitment from an end user. If this is a strong site as asserted by the Projo, why has no company come forward and said, "Yes, we want to be there. We'll sign a lease contingent on your building it"?

Posted by: SusanD at June 28, 2007 10:31 AM

"If this is a strong site as asserted by the Projo, why has no company come forward and said, "Yes, we want to be there. We'll sign a lease contingent on your building it"?"

Because this is Rhode Island, the single most business-unfriendly state in the union.

Posted by: Greg at June 28, 2007 11:07 AM

Can someone tell me where the big job #'s come from with a container port? A non-Rhode Island ship off-loads via mechanized cranes each operated by one person, these containers are moved to holding areas, one driver necessary, and are eventually shipped out via truck or train. We do this now with autos down at Quonset. Cars are manually off-loaded and are stored until shipped out via truck. Anyone know how many jobs are associated with Subarus (?) lot down there? Just don't see big job numbers with this. The ProJo's neverending erection over this container port idea is particularly bizarre. Can anyone cite any company knocking down the door to come here??
Btw I've found the Projo's silence on Procaccianti Group walking away from a billion dollar development deal in Newport very interesting as is their silence on the union power grab with the privatization law. Strong smell of insiders and union influence within Projo offices.

Posted by: Tim at June 28, 2007 1:49 PM
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