A dozen state legislators are recommending the ports of Davisville and Providence could take larger roles in the East Coast shipping industry.
A Port Commission of state representatives released a report Tuesday, suggesting that the two Rhode Island parts could become destinations for cargo barges if shipping lanes are properly dredged. The commission recommends that the state issue roughly $7.5 million bonds to dredge Davisville and the shipping lane between Quonset and Jamestown.
According to the report, Rhode Island (which once hosted one of the most prosperous commercial centers in colonial times and grew once again during World War II) has "fallen well behind" other states along the Atlantic coast in terms of port and maritime activity. The commission points to the rapid development of major deepwater container ports in areas like New York and New Jersey as one of the reasons for this.
Today, port-related economy in the Ocean State generates $320 million in economic activity and employs more than 3,600 people According to the commission's projections, augmenting the ports of Davisville and Providence could add another 1,000 jobs to that total, as well as $127 million in business revenue and more than $8 million in state and local tax revenues.
Geography may work in Rhode Island's factor, as major distributing centers for Target and Walmart may opt for closer ports in the state over the Delaware River Ports.