Strong 2016 gives Quonset momentum for New Year
Quonset Makes a New Name for Itself in Business. That was the headline from the New York Times earlier this year, in a lengthy feature from one of the world's leading newspapers. The piece highlights Quonset's "rebirth" and role as an economic engine for Rhode Island. The story also focuses on what has led to the Business Park's success and how it has become "a model as Rhode Island tries to improve its economy." Quonset continues to be a critical component of our states economy, with nearly 11,000 people working here at more than 200 companies. Its Port of Davisville is consistently among the top auto importers in North America. The New York Times piece was one of many highlights for Quonset Business Park in 2016, giving us great momentum as we head into the New Year.
In November, Rhode Islanders overwhelming approved a ballot initiative to invest in the continued success of the Port of Davisville with a $50 million bond. The bond is part of a larger $90 million plan by the General Assembly and Governor Gina M. Raimondo to modernize Pier 2 at Davisville. This investment will solidify Davisville's position as the premiere marine commercial gateway to New England, preserve hundreds of jobs in the maritime sector and keep Rhode Island competitive with other ports in the region. For the second year in a row, the Port of Davisville saw more than 210,000 autos arrive by sea and had more than 180 ships arrive at the Port. Another 40,000 autos arrived at Davisville by rail.
Gov. Raimondo and state leaders welcomed the first Neo-Panamax ship to dock in Rhode Island arrived at the Port of Davisville in July. The Iris Leader is NYK's first Ro/Ro (roll-on/roll-off) vessel to transit the new Panama Canal locks, enabling it to call on East Coast ports in the United States. The Iris Leader is approximately 34 meters (111.5 feet) wide and almost two feet wider than the old Panama Canal locks.
In August, the QDC Board of Directors approved a 50 year lease with Finlays for a two-phase 93,000 square foot research and manufacturing facility at Quonset Business Park. Finlays is a global leader in tea and coffee extracts, and in 2014 the company purchased Autocrat LLC of Lincoln, an iconic Rhode Island company. Phase One of the Finlays project will include a 28,800-square-foot Global Research and Development Center and Manufacturing Plant. Based on market demand, Phase Two envisions a 65,000-square-foot full-scale manufacturing facility. As part of this project, Finlays may hire as many as 73 new full-time employees by 2019.
J. Goodison Company, a full-service marine company based at Quonset Business Park has invested more than $9 million to expand its operations at the Park and opened its new ship repair facility this fall. The expansion included the addition of an 820-metric-ton mobile boat hoist, the largest lift of its kind in the Northeast. In December the company announced it had received a multi-year $20 million contract with the Department of Homeland Security for additional work.
Edesia, a ready-to-use food aid producer and non-profit organization, cut the ribbon in May on their new 85,000 square feet factory, which can accommodate between 75 and 100 employees.
There are also several construction projects underway or nearly completed in 2016, including: Toray Plastics expansion, SDS Diving (addition for Deepwater Wind), Gateway Offices Phase 3, West Davisville Industrial Condos Phase 2, Bella Energy Solar, and RI Air National Guard Flight Simulator, just to name a few.
In total, 2016 will result in more than 658,155 square feet of new structures, and an investment of more than $90 million from the private sector. Quonset continues to be a key driver of Rhode Island’s economy, and we look forward to even more growth in 2017. We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous year ahead.
Steven King, PE, is the managing director of the Quonset Development Corp., North Kingstown.