3/01/2013 — 

NARRAGANSETT, RI – In an effort to help spur business activity, create jobs, and boost Rhode Island’s fishing industry, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin today joined Governor Lincoln Chafee, a key official from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and local leaders to announce a $2.9 million investment to help modernize the Port of Galilee.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) received this competitive federal economic development grant from EDA to rehabilitate critical infrastructure at the Port of Galilee.

“Modernizing the Port of Galilee is a smart investment that recognizes the importance of the fishing industry to our economy and will help spur business activity, create jobs, and boost Rhode Island’s economy.  Fishing is critical to our economy.  Strengthening the port’s infrastructure is key to its long-term stability and our state’s economic future,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees EDA funding, and also hosts an annual EDA Grant Workshop to help Rhode Islanders successfully apply for EDA grants.

“This federal funding will support some of the most critical components of Rhode Island’s economic recovery: our infrastructure and our key fishing and tourism industries,” said Governor Lincoln Chafee. “For generations, the Port of Galilee has been a significant part of the economic life of our state. We are grateful to the Obama administration for this grant, which is a long-term investment in Rhode Island’s economy with the added benefit of good construction jobs in the near-term.”

“This is welcome news for the Port of Galilee and the businesses that call it home,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who arranged a tour of the Port with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for the Economic Development Administration, and joined the delegation in supporting the grant application. “Commercial ports and working waterfronts are vital to Rhode Island’s economic future. This federal investment at Galilee will boost the fishing and marine trades industries which provide critical jobs for Rhode Islanders.”

“The jobs created by this funding, along with its support for industries critical to our state economy, epitomizes the way federal grants should work,” said U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin. “It also shows why we must reverse the process of sequestration, which began today and puts in place across the board cuts with no regard for programs that work best.”

“The Obama administration is committed to strengthening the critical infrastructure that is vital to the economic health of local communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “The EDA grant announced today will help ensure the continued economic viability of Rhode Island’s fishing industry and spur economic development, tourism and new investment in the Narragansett area.”

An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

The Port of Galilee is one of the largest working commercial fishing ports on the East Coast, providing fish, squid, and lobster to both national and international markets.  The Port is also a popular destination for tourists and an essential part of Narragansett’s economy and character, as well as the state and regional economy.

The EDA investment will support major repairs at the Port of Galilee, which is an important regional center for commercial fishing as well as marine recreational fishing and tourism. The repairs include replacing 925 linear feet of bulkhead from Salty Brine State Beach to State Pier 3 and rehabilitation of 3,200 square feet of Pier HH. The project is expected to create 21 new jobs, retain an additional 685 jobs, and generate $720,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

The Port, which is owned by the State of Rhode Island and managed by DEM, supports hundreds of small to medium size businesses.  It includes thirty-eight docks and piers and is home to over 240 commercial fishing vessels.

According to a Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation report, the annual value of sales associated with fish landed by Rhode Island vessels is about $200 million and nearly 7,000 people are employed catching, processing, distributing, and selling the fish harvested by Rhode Island vessels.