PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — How should state leaders spend more than $1 billion in federal stimulus money? The Rhode Island Foundation says it’s received hundreds of suggestions so far.
CEO Neil Steinberg says this is “once in a generation” money and ultimately it will be up to Gov. Dan McKee and the General Assembly to decide how to spend it, but Rhode Islanders have until Thursday night to make their voice heard.
In April, the R.I. Foundation kicked off the “Make it Happen: Investing for Rhode Island’s Future” initiative forming a panel to come up with recommendations for state leaders on how to spend the money.
Unlike previous stimulus money, the windfall comes with few strings attached, meaning it could be spent in a wide variety of ways.
Steinberg says the foundation is looking for three to five big ideas that will help those who were hardest hit by the pandemic. He says they also have to be sustainable projects that will last after the federal money runs out, and can improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.
“And then be able to very proudly look back in the future, all of us look back and say, ‘Gee, those were good investments.’ And that’s what it really is. These are not expenses or one-timers,” Steinberg said.
One proposal the Foundation will be considering comes from those at Quonset Development Corporation.
In Quonset’s proposal, they are asking for $78.5 million in federal funds to construct a new pier and terminal, create more than 30 acres of additional cargo space, and renovate an existing pier that was built in 1941.
Quonset’s Managing Director Steve King says the investment would allow the port to accommodate the growing offshore wind industry, making the state a leader in maritime renewable energy.
“Our goal here is to continue the success and build on the success of the Port of Davisville, maintain the jobs we have, the 1,600 jobs we have related to being one of the top ten auto-import locations in North America, and bring the new industry jobs with the wind industry to the port, and leverage that even further,” King explained.
That’s just one of the several hundred proposals the Foundation will be considering.
The deadline to submit your idea is at 5 p.m. and you can do so by visiting the Foundation’s website.
All submitted ideas will be shared with the committee in full, and anyone who submits ideas will be invited to attend.