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U.S. Commerce Department Invests More Than $15 Million to Support Rhode Island Businesses and Create Jobs in the Wake of 2010 Floods

Thursday, September 14, 2011

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced more than $15 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to help Rhode Island respond to the historic floods of 2010.

“These vital EDA investments will help Rhode Island businesses continue to recover from the flooding in 2010, protect them from future floods and spur economic growth that can create new jobs,” Blank said.

The funding today includes $5 million to the East Providence Waterfront District Commission to renovate an existing manufacturing building to accommodate the relocation of Eaton Corporation, a critical manufacturer of components used in the aeronautics industry.

“President Obama is committed to providing immediate relief to Americans who are dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, and this infusion of Federal funding to Rhode Island will do just that,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez said. “This latest administration investment of over $15 million will enhance local economic recovery efforts and position the state to promote small business development and job creation strategies.”

Included in the $15 million in grants is a $2.96 million award to the Town of Bristol to build a culvert that will protect businesses in the Franklin corridor from future flooding.

“Rhode Island is still recovering from the devastating floods last year and I am pleased to see this investment in our communities to help them continue to rebuild and prevent future damage from major storms,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-02).

“These needed infrastructure improvements will help put Rhode Islanders to work and ensure businesses stay open,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said. Reed is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and helped create this pool of funding for the state.  “This is about disaster recovery and economic recovery.  These EDA grants will save and create jobs while providing much needed support to help Rhode Island rebuild and diminish future flooding.  While this funding will not address every need or fund every project, EDA deserves great credit for increasing the allocation to the state.”

“Our state has worked hard to rebuild in the wake of last year’s floods and has made tremendous progress, but for many cities and towns, work still remains,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.  “These funds will help us continue our recovery efforts, and will also help minimize the damage of future disasters.”

The investments announced today also include:

  • $2,495,072 to the Town of Westerly to make critical roadway and drainage system improvements to serve businesses located along White Rock Road and Canal Street.
  • $2,170,812 to the Town of Coventry to make sewer infrastructure improvements to serve business and industry located within the Industrial Drive Industrial Park and along Flat River Road.
  • $1.5 million to the city of Providence to provide a closed loop rail line that will be used by businesses within the Port of Providence to offload coal and other raw materials.
  • $721,360 to the city of Warwick Sewer Authority to help build a new pumping station that will help protect businesses in the Pawtuxet Industrial Park from future flooding.
  • $140,000 to the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency of Cranston to help develop a long-term economic development strategy that will prevent and mitigate the impact of future natural disasters and major emergencies that may affect Rhode Island.
  • $75,600 to the Town of West Warwick to assist in the development of a drainage study that will provide recommendations to mitigate the impact of future flood events on the local business community.

President Obama declared a State of Emergency in flood stricken Rhode Island in March 2010, enabling families and businesses to apply for Federal funds for losses and damages.  In the aftermath of the historic floods, the Administration worked with the Congressional delegation, state officials and local leaders to deliver much needed assistance to the state’s 1 million residents. Rhode Island has received over $200 million in Federal aid to date.