Business and political leaders, media endorse Question 4

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 27, 2014 – Business and government leaders throughout Rhode Island, along with several media outlets, have publicly endorsed Question 4 on the 2014 ballot, adding to the long list of supporters of the referendum that would fund a new engineering facility at the University of Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal, Providence Business News, Valley Breeze and South County Independent have editorialized in support of Question 4, and op-eds written by multiple business and government leaders were recently submitted.

“For some time, Rhode Island companies have decried the shortage of engineers. Most would like to fill these well-paying jobs with local graduates,” wrote the Providence Journal editorial board. Noting that many Rhode Island companies have already expressed support for the campaign, the editorial concluded: “Voters should join them, and approve this worthwhile investment.”

Passage of Question 4 would fund construction of a 195,000-square foot building to replace five existing engineering buildings on URI’s Kingston campus, all of which opened in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The Providence Business News followed suit. “If Rhode Island is to compete for the best students and faculty – which leads to a stronger economy – its state university should have a top-shelf facility. And recent faculty defections as well as feedback from local companies looking to employ URI grads indicate that is not the case today,” wrote PBN. “As an investment in the Ocean State’s future, this bond should pass.”

Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello expressed their support for Question 4, too. “We must build on and leverage public-private partnerships between academia and business, between government agencies and corporate leaders. And that is why we are 100 percent behind Question 4,” they wrote to the statewide media.

The leaders of seven Rhode Island companies have also written an editorial encouraging the state’s residents to vote yes on Question 4. “Great teaching and research institutions require more than just outstanding faculty and students to prosper. They also need the very best physical facilities to deliver on their missions’ promise,” they wrote. “As business leaders whose companies rely on well trained engineers, we strongly support this initiative… In a struggling economy where businesses, especially manufacturers, require highly trained workers but often cannot find them, the URI-educated engineer is precisely the kind of graduate that we seek.”

The letter was signed by the chief executive officers of FM Global of Johnston, Hope Global of Cumberland, Navatek of South Kingstown, Teknor Apex of Pawtucket, Taco Inc. of Cranston, Toray Plastics America, Inc. and Hexagon Metrology, both of North Kingstown. More than 30 local Rhode Island companies and organizations have come out in support of Question 4.

Others endorsing Question 4 include the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, RI Build, Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, National Education Association Rhode Island, and the URI Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

The URI College of Engineering contributes about $142 million to the Rhode Island economy each year, based on a 2013 economic impact study. At least 28 Rhode Island companies have been founded by faculty and alumni of the College, and URI engineering faculty members have been awarded 73 patents for their research in the last decade. More than 4,000 URI engineering alumni live in Rhode Island and work at about 750 companies in the state.

Click here for more information about Question 4 and the proposed engineering building.