KINGSTON, R.I.. – October 5, 2016 – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley, Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, URI College of Engineering Dean Raymond M. Wright, business leaders, students and other state and local officials joined today at the University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus to kick off the ‘Vote Yes on 4’ campaign.
“This November, voters have an opportunity to help attract the high-paying, high-tech jobs of the future by voting Yes on Question 4,” said Raimondo. “Approval of this ballot question is critical to moving Rhode Island’s economy forward by investing in engineering and innovation, which will work to turn cutting edge research from our world-class higher education institutions into real jobs right here in our state.”
Question 4 on the November 8 ballot will authorize $45.5 million in bonds to expand the University of Rhode Island’s highly successful College of Engineering and create a URI affiliated Innovation Campus Program that will pair cutting edge research from our academic institutions with private sector investments.
“The University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering is a shining example of how investing in high-tech programs can lead to the high-paying, high-skilled jobs Rhode Island needs,” Dooley said. “With more than 96 percent of our engineering students employed in the field with an average salary of $63,000 or enrolled in graduate programs, approval of Question 4 will help expand this successful program and allow higher education institutions to partner with the private sector to prepare Rhode Island for the jobs of the future.”
“The General Assembly was proud to support putting this ballot question before the voters because we know that in order to move Rhode Island’s economy forward, these are exactly the types of investments we need to make,” Paiva Weed said. “Voting Yes on 4 will position our state to be a leader in the high-tech STEM areas, and will help to attract new businesses.”
Approval of Question 4 would authorize $25.5 million toward expanding URI’s highly successful College of Engineering. Studies have shown that more than 750 Rhode Island companies employ URI engineering graduates and more than 4,000 URI-educated engineers live in Rhode Island. In addition, more than 30 Rhode Island companies were started by URI engineers.
“Expanding URI’s College of Engineering by voting Yes on 4 is a smart investment by Rhode Islanders,” said Wright. “I’ve seen firsthand how companies in Rhode Island and across the nation seek to employ our engineering students. With a nearly 50 percent increase in enrollment in engineering since 2003, approving Question 4 will expand our capacity, build more relationships with the private sector and put even more of our talented students to work at good-paying jobs.”
Approval of Question 4 would also authorize $20 million for a University of Rhode Island affiliated Innovation Campus Program. Innovation campuses would expand on the partnerships our academic institutions have with the private sector to pair the world-class, cutting edge research they produce with real jobs and employers here in Rhode Island.
“Mindimmune has experienced firsthand the University of Rhode Island’s ability to innovate in business as well as in pharmaceutical research,” said Stevin Zorn, president and CEO of Mindimmune Therapeutics, Inc. “When we were determining where to locate our business, we looked in Cambridge and at other areas across the nation, but determined that Rhode Island was making the right investments in our field to produce the research and high-skilled employees we needed. This collaboration has worked for us and we believe it can work for other businesses by approving Question 4.”
In addition to today’s speaking program, the “Vote Yes on 4” campaign also kicked off its online and social media campaign. To get involved or find more information, visit www.yeson4ri.com or follow the campaign on Twitter at @yeson4ri, on Facebook @yeson4ri, or by using #yeson4ri.
With a little more than a month until election day, the “Vote Yes on 4” campaign will be aggressively campaigning at the grassroots level, along with traditional and online advertising.