KINGSTON, R.I., October 27, 2010 – Question 2, a statewide bond referendum which will provide $61 million for the construction of a new Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences at the University of Rhode Island and $17 million for the renovation of and an addition to Rhode Island College’s Art Center, has earned endorsements from key Rhode Island business, labor and community organizations, media and individuals.
Question 2 has been endorsed by:
• Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association
• North Kingstown Fraternal Order of Police
• American Association of University Professors – University of Rhode Island Chapter
• NEA Rhode Island Political Action Committee for Education
• Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
• South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce
• Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce
• Hospital Association of Rhode Island
• Ironworkers Local No. 37
• Laborers International Union of North America – Rhode Island Local 1033
• Rhode Island AFL-CIO
• Rhode Island College – American Federation of Teachers Local 1819
• Rhode Island College Alumni Association
• Rhode Island College Foundation
• Rhode Island Construction and Building Trades Council
• University of Rhode Island Foundation
• University of Rhode Island Alumni Association
• University of Rhode Island Student Senate
Rhode Island’s business and labor leaders have come together to support Question 2. Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Michael F. Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council wrote about their support in the Providence Journal on Oct. 19:
“One aspect of the economic-development equation that demands immediate attention is support for higher education and job training. Depending on which ranking you follow, Rhode Island ranks last in the nation (or very close to it) in public investment in our state institutions: the Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Very few matters being debated right now have that gravitas. On Election Day, we can begin to get out of the rankings basement … Higher education’s role in developing programs needed for the jobs that the marketplace will demand is critical to our state’s economic future. Investing in our public institutions of higher education in the sciences and the arts will put Rhode Island in a growth mode.”
Others, including Former Commissioner of Higher Education Americo Petrocelli, and Vice President & General Manager at Toray Plastics Scott Van Winter, also contributed opinion pieces to area publications and spoke out about the need for the new facility.
Media who have endorsed the bond include the Providence Journal, Providence Business News, South County Independent, East Side Monthly, Providence Phoenix, Warwick Beacon, Newport Daily News and RIFuture.org. In addition, one URI graduate who is a leading national security expert, Anthony Amore, wrote in the national Huffington Post and the Providence Journal about the need and support for Question 2. In his column entitled “Fighting Terrorism in Kingston, Rhode Island,” Amore wrote:
“On November 2, voters will be given a unique opportunity. A ballot measure will allow Rhode Islanders to cast their support for the work that URI is doing to fight terrorism and to aid U.S. soldiers — who, remember, are still at war — by voting “YES” on Question 2. Such a vote will approve $61 million for the construction of a new chemistry building to replace Pastore Hall on the campus. It really is the biggest no-brainer on the ballot this year.”
If approved, the referendum is expected to create approximately 1,200 jobs over the next five years in construction, trades, architecture, engineering, management, teaching and research. The American Chemistry Council estimates that chemistry companies in Rhode Island directly employ more than 3,700 people, and indirectly contribute more than 8,700 jobs. For every chemistry industry job in-state, an additional 2.3 jobs are created within the state’s economy. Rhode Island chemistry industry jobs are also good paying, with an average wage of $67,200, generating $252 million in earnings.
Supporters of Question 2 agree that approval of this bond referendum is essential to Rhode Island’s economic revitalization and job growth. The new Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences at URI will prepare students with leading edge technology and training that will help them compete and succeed in the job market and will help local businesses looking to hire workers in the health sciences, biotechnology, energy and other high-tech industries.