Date of Award
Master of Community Planning
The City of Central Falls has approximately seventy (70) firms engaged in the manufacture and processing of raw materials into finished products. These firms represent a significant resource to the city in the form of jobs, tax revenues, and potential economic growth. The majority of the city's firms rely on export markets, with 74% of all products manufactured in the city being marketed outside Rhode Island. Therefore, Central Falls' industry brings new money into the Blackstone Valley and contributes to its stability and growth.
Recognizing the importance of this sector of the local economy, Mayor Richard B. Bessette enlisted his Division of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) to study the needs and concerns of the manufacturing community. A 1978 Survey of Manufacturers revealed that Central Falls has a diversified economic base due to a large number of small and medium-sized firms. The results of the survey also indicated that a significant portion (44%) of the factories are over fifty (50) years old. Antiquated design and deterioration require that these buildings be renovated to reduce energy consumption, meet modern day shipping and receiving demands, and to solve space problems.
Based on these results and other research on the condition of local industry, Central Falls must address the needs of the manufacturing community by identifying vacant and underutilized space in the city, assisting in the rehabilitation of existing industrial buildings, and improving streets, parking facilities, and traffic circulation in its industrial districts. In this report I have outlined an industrial development strategy to accomplish these improvements. The strategy consists of the following elements: technical and financial assistance, organizational development, special projects, and marketing and promotion. Central Falls' Division of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) will play a significant role in the implementation of this strategy. DPCD will provide staff support, coordinate the allocation of public resources, including financing, and represent the city's interests in any negotiations. The strategy recommends the city increase involvement in local economic development through the Special Task Force for Industrial Development, The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Second Pawtucket Industrial Foundation.
In addition to the elements mentioned above, the report recommends both short and long term investment strategies the city can adopt to pursue its economic development goals. Short term strategies include continued work with the Task Force, traffic circulation and parking improvements, educational and promotional efforts, and a feasibility study of a vacant industrial site. For the long term, the city should develop an Industrial Reinvestment Program, plan a development project with the Second Pawtucket Industrial Foundation, examine tax policies, formulate a more aggressive marketing effort, and establish a more formal development mechanism within municipal government.
A number of problems will act as constraints on the implementation of this strategy. These include a scarcity of suitable land, a poor image, and local government's inexperience and lack of commitment toward economic development. Given its fiscal problems and the importance of industry to the local economy, Central Falls should adopt a sound and consistent strategy to strengthen local industry. This is a necessary first step toward building a productive partnership with the private sector.
Silverson, Donald, "AN INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR CENTRAL FALLS, RHODE ISLAND" (1981). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 497.