With residents focused on the development of Ten Rod Road and Post Road, one area of North Kingstown is quietly funneling in business and development.
The 3,200 acres of Quonset Business Park, a former Navy and air base, have witnessed a transformation in recent years that goes far beyond a and a at the Gateway.
The mentality that Quonset is a desolate wasteland with ample space to toss stuff into is now remarkably outdated. As of February, Quonset is down to just 428 acres of developable out of the developable 1,378. (The remaining 57 percent of the park is taken up by the and open space and wetlands.) Of that 428, 166 acres are currently under negotiations, leaving just 302 acres open.
According to Quonset Development Corporation Managing Director Steven King, nearly 8,800 people work in the business park. In other words, one in every 50 Rhode Island workers is in Quonset. The biggest employer is none other than with approximately 2,000 employees. That number will stand to grow in the coming years at EB – Quonset’s first tenant after President Nixon closed the Navy base – looks to expand by 400 people.
King attributes some of the park’s success to investments by the state, including the new recent highway project which brings motorist straight into Quonset from Route 4. Since 2005 when Quonset Development Corporation was founded, the business park’s workforce has grown by more than a third and now hosts 168 businesses.
“It’s a prime point that investment in infrastructure will buy results,” said Steve King.
And the growth is not expected to slow any time soon: last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Quonset Business Park was awarded $22.3 million in federal stimulus money from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The funds will go to enhancing Quonset’s roadways, piers and rails and build a crane for offshore wind development. (Deepwater Wind is currently leasing land at the Port of Davisville in anticipation of assembling wind energy systems.) Quonset may even be home to a 160-foot wind turbine at Mill Creek Marine in the near future. (.)
In 2010 alone, Quonset welcomed businesses like Amtrak, , Shoreline Business Solutions and the incoming Marriott hotel. According to King, land is available in the Gateway, including area zoned for restaurants across from Kohl’s and Dave’s as well as land near Lowe’s.
For businesses looking to move to Quonset, King has one suggestion.