Elorza Plan Targets Doubling Providence Exports in Five Years

Jul 16, 2014

A plan set for release Thursday morning by Providence mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza targets a goal of doubling exports through the Port of Providence over five years -- a move, he says, that could add between 1,500 and 1,600 jobs.

"The Port of Providence and our city's export economy are full of untapped potential for further growth and development," according to the conclusion of Elorza's nine-page plan. "We must leverage our advantage as one of only two deep water ports in New England, combined with robust manufacturing capacities, a vibrant creative class, and a diverse immigrant entrepreneur community, to increase the total dollar of goods, services, and intellectual capital we're sending to the rest of the world."

Elorza, who worked as a professor at Roger Williams University Law School before his campaign, is an avid traveler. The introduction to his "Export Providence Plan" is informed by his own travels and how "the economic foundation of cities is trade."

The plan says Providence has the potential to grow its export economy due to a central geographic location with access to the Northeast rail corridor, I-95, and an airport adding international service, among other factors.

According to Elorza's proposal, the Port of Providence posted exports of slightly more than $298 million last year. He cites a goal of increasing that to $600 million in five years, and notes how the Brookings Institution estimates that a billion dollar increase in export sales results in about 5,400 jobs.

As it stands, Elorza identifies the port's top merchandise export categories as waste and scrap ($566 million annually); chemicals ($252 million); primary metals manufacturing ($247 million); non-electrical machinery ($204 million) and miscellaneous manufactured commodities ($186 million).

Elorza's plan calls for "a comprehensive analysis of our export economy," and has five main parts:

-- Identifying and capitalizing opportunities;

-- Fostering mentorship and embarking on trade missions;

-- Establishing a ports advisory council;

-- Refocusing waterfront zoing;

-- and Leveraging diversity. 

Elorza is competing with Michael Solomon and Brett Smiley as the leading Democrats in the September 9 mayoral primary.