NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The new east berth of Pier 2 at the Port of Davisville was ceremoniously opened Monday morning, with Gov. Dan McKee cutting the ribbon to celebrate completion of the modernization process the pier underwent to allow it to be a staging ground for future offshore projects.
“This is part of a project that’s been going on now for several years, primarily from a $50 million bond that the voters approved in 2016 and we’re making great headway,” Quonset Development Corporation Director Steve King said. “There’s a lot involved in this between dredging, pier extension construction and there were more than 24 companies involved in this activity and we’re very proud to see this get completed today.”
McKee praised the effort as well as continued work going on at the Quonset Business Park an example of successful collaboration between the state and private industry.
“Quonset Business Park is a great example of what our state can achieve with collaboration from public and private partners,” McKee said. “The growth of the offshore wind industry in Rhode Island is exciting and the Port of Davisville will play a key role. I look forward to working with the Quonset team and private companies at the park to usher in this renewable energy future for our state.”
McKee was joined by King, North Kingstown Town Council President Greg Mancini and Siem Car Carriers President Jeffery Campbell, who was presented with a plaque commemorating their first delivery of Volkswagens, Audis, Porsches and Bentleys to the United States via the Port of Davisville last June, as those makes were unloaded from the Siem Cicero behind them, completing its journey from Germany to the Ocean State.
King also made note that the carrier’s ships were powered entirely by Liquified Natural Gas, which he called a cleaner alternative to traditional ship fuels used by other large carriers.
The Port of Davisville has grown in recent years to become one of the continent’s top 10 auto import centers, something McKee attributed to the upside Rhode Island has for such work given its location.
“We are right on the ocean waters, and the ship leaving the port here brings in about 1,400 jobs right here at Quonset and then working on opportunities for the state, but this falls right into the Rhode Island 2030 plan,“ McKee said. “We start talking about the upsides for Rhode Island, whether were talking about the housing or higher ed, but the ocean, our ocean front and she gives us a tremendous advantage. They are not bringing these cars by ship into Montana, they are bringing them into Rhode Island because we are the Ocean State, so that’s the reason that were here to celebrate the progress but also to really highlight the opportunities that we have coming out of this pandemic.”
McKee said those 1,400 new jobs are a key part of the state’s plan of getting Rhode Islanders back to work as the economy further re-opens and the state begins coming out from the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week he signed legislation allowing those who were on unemployment to continue to collect up to 150% of their weekly benefits before losing eligibility and the $300 weekly bonus from the federal COVID relief package as long as they were eligible to collect those benefits in hopes of incentivizing unemployed Rhode Islanders to return to work.
“We’re expecting thousands of people to come off of unemployment and respond to the package that was just passed,” McKee said.
Following the ribbon cutting, McKee was taken on a tour of North Atlantic Distribution (NORAD), which processes the thousands of vehicles coming through the Port of Davisville annually before being transported to dealerships as far west as Chicago and as far south as Washington, D.C.
Following the ceremony, King thanked McKee and echoed his praises of the public-private partnership.
“The QDC team thanks Governor McKee and his staff for visiting Quonset and the Port of Davisville to see a Rhode Island economic success story in action,” King said. “Continued teamwork between the Governor’s Office, our other partners in government and the private sector at Quonset will continue to yield enormous benefits for our state’s economy.”