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Economic Development

Creating a thriving city-wide economy

Providence’s economy has long been in transition. Gonzalo will focus on strategies that align with our strengths and build upon our promise to develop a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable economy that lifts thousands of families into the middle class. He will:
 

  • Collaborate closely with the Governor and legislative leaders to align priorities around economic development opportunities in the capital city. Improve city-state coordination in economic development, particularly around marketing, site selection, and incentives. 

  • Invest in emerging opportunities within the green and blue economies to activate the Port of Providence and create good jobs for Providence.

  • Support, elevate, and promote Providence’s rich and diverse cultural assets as a mechanism to generate economic activity and attract tourists to the city.

  • Advocate that the remaining parcels under control of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission are used to spark economic innovation and not just residential development with ground floor commercial space in the Jewelry District.

  • Support the creation of a community development financial institution (CDFI) in Providence to serve local BIPOC businesses.

  • Transition away from Tax Stabilization Agreements as the City's default economic development tool.

  • Require equitable City contracting by expanding and codifying into law the procurement of goods and services from minority-owned, women-owned, and Providence-based businesses.

  • Connect BIPOC business owners with capital, technical assistance, and professional support, while ensuring entrepreneurs have the resources they need to start new successful businesses.

  • Leverage the City's purchasing power to support local small businesses, and work with technical assistance providers and industry partners to nurture local companies that can meet government needs.   

  • Negotiate with anchor institutions to increase their use of local vendors and suppliers, hire locally, and invest in affordable housing for their workforce.

  • Support downtown’s post-COVID transformation by activating public spaces through programming and infrastructure repairs, providing technical support and financial tools to local small businesses, and investing in the city’s tourism industry.

  • Improve permitting and inspection processes by implementing technology and public sector best practices. Foster a culture of pride, buy-in, and community commitment among city employees.

Expanding neighborhood commerce

Quality of place and economic vitality are inextricably linked. In order to build wealth in our neighborhoods, Providence needs to leverage its connections to other communities to increase economic activity. As Mayor, Gonzalo will reinvigorate our commercial business districts and gateways. He will:

 

  • Decentralize the city’s Economic Development Office by housing small business navigators in each neighborhood to meet and support entrepreneurs where they are, placing them with trusted community partners like community libraries to bring city government programs, and third-party small business development resources, and expertise to their doorsteps. The navigators will provide easy access to coaching, connections, and capital, and help navigate city permits to any potential or existing entrepreneur. 

  • Establish a network of experienced local accountants, attorneys, and partner agencies to support small businesses in developing business plans, securing financing, and growing sustainably.

  • Simplify the City’s business licensing structure to remove undue burdens on small businesses.

  • Eliminate pervasive barriers for businesses, vendors, and developers. For example, using widely available technology solutions to streamline purchasing processes, reforming the bidding process, and shortening payment times. This will make it easier for more local businesses to become vendors of the city and minimize the risk of fraud or waste. 

  • Develop or partner with existing resources to offer an Entrepreneurs Startup Boot Camp of online courses that provide information on the resources, funding, and technical assistance available in the city. These courses would provide a comprehensive checklist for business success.

  • Expand support of key partners such as the RI Black Business Association and the RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

  • Provide seed funding and technical assistance to help neighborhoods create their own business improvement districts, modeled on the Downtown Improvement District, to leverage private sector contributions for “clean and safe” ambassadors and joint marketing efforts.

  • Develop a seasonal Community Street Corps program for seniors and youth to keep sidewalks clean in our major commercial corridors and neighborhoods. 

  • Make facade and streetscape investments to improve the aesthetics of these key commercial corridors. 

  • Leverage federal and state dollars to rebuild public infrastructure like sidewalks, intersections, wayfinding, and streets. Repairs will be prioritized based on need, using data sources like the 2019 StreetScan Sidewalk Report. 

  • Take control of key vacant buildings or empty lots that are dragging neighborhoods down and work with community organizations to repurpose or redevelop them for community benefit or for redevelopment as housing.

  • Partner with nonprofit developers to make commercial real estate affordable for small businesses, especially opportunities for ownership.

  • Incentivize and support the creation of worker-owned cooperatives. Worker cooperatives are proven to generate wealth, improve the quality of life of workers, and promote opportunity for people who lack traditional access to business ownership.

  • Support urban business incubators such as the Biz Bodega opened by One Neighborhood Builders and Social Enterprise Greenhouse on Manton Avenue.