In recent years, Greater Newport communities have experienced a slow erosion of their economic strength. In 2015, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors took on this challenge and initiated the implementation of a regional economic development division operating under the brand Connect Greater Newport. Connect Greater Newport was developed to respond to the changing needs of our existing business community and to chart a course for future success. Greater Newport’s leaders understand that no single community can support the range of resources and expertise needed for economic stability and agree that the responsibility must be shared. A collaboration of civic and government leaders from the communities of Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Warren formed to establish this public-private partnership focused on economic development.
Strategy 2023 maps out the first five years of Connect Greater Newport. The first two years are designed with more clarity and consumer informed direction, while the next three build on the results of that experience. The recommendations that follow are based on discussions with an advisory board, trade associations in the region, interviews with individual companies and a review of key regional indicators.
STRATEGIES & ACTIONS
The concept that a region is the scale at which economic development should operate is a more recent perspective and is a recognition that the assets needed to support vibrant businesses are significant. It recognizes that creating live, work, play communities cannot be done at a municipal scale and requires the focus and resources of connected communities. Data indicates there is room for improvement in the Greater Newport region and there are opportunities that we are not fully leveraging.
What is unique about the Greater Newport region is that both the opportunities and threats are created by being a coastal community. As much of economic development these days is driven more by quality of life considerations and less by incentives and taxes, it is a place like Greater Newport that can ‘win’ the location decision. The natural beauty and related amenities that the region provides is what can drive economic competitiveness. What stands in the way is a lack of capacity, a lack of resources, a decentralized view of labor force, and housing.
Connect Greater Newport adds the capacity and is being designed to help communities think differently to get beyond the identified weaknesses. If we can start working together as community leaders, institutions, and regional organizations, we can make this the strongest region in the country.