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Bennett: “Shame on us” if we don’t create hundreds of jobs at the Port of Providence

August 18, 2011

Jim Bennett, unveiled this week as Providence’s new director of economic development, says the Port of Providence has a lot of potential to generate new jobs, particularly blue-collar jobs.

Regarding the container port once championed at Quonset Point by former Governor Lincoln Almond, Bennett  said he was “the only one back in the day that didn’t discount it right out of hand.” (Bennett’s winning opponent in the 2002 GOP gubernatorial primary, Don Carcieri, sharply opposed the container port concept, effectively killing it.)

“Now I’ve got a perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is with the Providence Port,” Bennett said this morning during a taping of Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable. “We think jobs that are created down there, you didn’t even need a high school education.”

The stevedore jobs, they’re $75,000 a year jobs. there’s an opportunity to create hundreds of jobs right now. And I think we’ll have more to say about that in the next couple of weeks.

Bennett’s comment came in response to a question from guest panelist Ted Nesi about how Providence can create middle-class jobs.

Bennett said new jobs at hte Port of Providence would benefit minority residents, make use of an under-utilized asset, and, he said, “You don’t have go through the politics and the back-and-forth over Quonset.”

Bennett’s vision for developing the Port of Providence includes adding cranes to move containers from ships to trains, offering a competitive advantage over trucking. 

“”There is already a deep water port there,” he says. “There’s rail there, there is access to the biggest thoroughfare in the whole Northeast, Route 195 and 95. That is right in front of us. Shame on us if we don’t get this done.” 

Political Roundtable airs Friday at 5:40 and 7:40 am, and online.

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