Business news

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Remember all the detours caused by the Iway project? Well, something similar is about to start in Pawtucket.

A portion of Taft Street will be closed today in Pawtucket, the first of many road closures prompted by the replacement of the Pawtucket River Bridge. This section of road will remain closed for approximately three years.

Frank Corrao, project manager for the state transportation department, says the new Pawtucket River Bridge will not only be a functional, but aesthetic improvement.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – At Roger Williams University in Bristol, water rushes into a bathtub-sized tank on a dock at Mount Hope Bay. Dale Leavitt, an associate professor of marine biology, removes a cover revealing quahogs and oysters.

"If you look in here, these are all baby oysters that we've reared up this summer," Leavitt says. "We like to think of them as about the size of a quarter."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – One in every seven Rhode Islanders is food insecure and a record number are relying on food pantries to put food on the table. That, according to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank's annual report which will be released later today.

The number of people using food pantries for assistance has risen by 17,000 a month since the Recession began three years ago. Food bank CEO Andrew Schiff says the current pace of nearly 10 million pounds a year is unsustainable.

Providence, RI – By MEGAN HALL
The Rhode Island Retail Federation is feeling optimistic about sales this coming holiday weekend.

Executive director Paul DeRoche says it's the first time in two years he's felt positive about sales on so called Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

He's predicting a slight increase in purchases- up about 1.4% from last year. "Particularly in the technology field," DeRoche says. "I-Pads, I-Phones. I think we're going to be pleasantly surprised after Black Friday."

A wind turbine is pictured at NE Tech in Warwick. Photo by Louis Oppenheimer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Northeast Offshore Wind Summit is being held in Providence Monday and Tuesday. Regional developers and policymakers are reviewing the energy potential of wind power as well as the necessity of training a workforce for the new wind industry.

While the conference has focused on offshore wind projects such as the wind farm on Block Island, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Government Affairs Director Fred Hashway says on-shore special area management projects are important too.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island has received $80 million from the federal treasury to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

The program, called the "Hardest Hit Fund," is now available in Providence and by December 1 will be available statewide.

The Hardest Hit Fund is expected to spare 5,000 to 10,000 Rhode Island families the indignity of foreclosure. It's a zero percent loan program with one important caveat: the loan is forgivable after five years provided the homeowner meets certain requirements.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The second part of an annual process to forecast state finances continues today at the State House.

The revenue estimating conference takes place twice a year - in May and November. Legislators and other officials will use the projections formed during the conference to shape the next state budget.

Rhode Island ended the last fiscal year with a small surplus. But when federal stimulus money runs out the state will face an estimated $361 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning next July.

Photo by Flo Jonic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Crossroads Rhode Island is getting some badly needed financial help. The Rhode Island Foundation has presented Crossroads with a check for $100,000 to deal with the overflow conditions it's confronting this year.

Crossroads president Anne Nolan says they saw more homeless people by the end of July as they did in all of 2009.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence tourism industry appears to be on the rebound. Sixty-four percent of hotel rooms have been full on average so far this year, compared to 57 percent at this time last year.

The statistics come from the Providence Convention and Visitors Bureau whose spokeswoman, Kristen Adamo, says the hotel industry is back to pre-recessionary levels.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Gas prices in Rhode Island have jumped 11 cents since last week and are up 16 cents in the last two weeks.

AAA Southern New England says in a weekly survey Tuesday that self-serve regular unleaded is now averaging $2.80 per gallon, or a penny below the national average. The average price in Rhode Island at the same time last year was $2.50.

AAA attributes the spike to a weakened U.S. dollar and an increase in global demand.