Knowledge District


Is Rhode Island government finally waking up to leveraging state colleges as wellsprings of economic development? RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay sees some hopeful signs on Smith Hill.

After years of malign neglect of Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, the General Assembly finally appears to be turning a corner. Several elements in the state budget approved last week by the House Finance Committee show that Statehouse politicians are finally getting the message on the iron link between education and creating jobs in the Ocean State.

Tis the high season of summer in the Ocean State and the time of hijinks at the State House. As the hours dwindle towards adjournment, items big and small sometimes get lost in the last-minute shuffle as the competing egos in the House and Senate square off.

One very important economic development and education issue to watch: the fate of the resolution needed to move forward the plan to revive a gateway to the old Jewelry District in Providence by putting a nursing school in the old Dynamo Building, the onetime South Street power station.

The Dynamo House, the century-old onetime Narragansett Electric power station, now sits as a forlorn reminder of what once thrived along Providence’s downtown waterfront.  And as Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay notes, it now stands as a guard to the old Jewelry District that state and city officials are trying to rebrand as a Knowledge District.