Connect Greater Newport
Newport and Bristol County, RI
The Newport County Chamber of Commerce is one of Rhode Island's largest business advocacy organizations. The Chamber was formed to enhance the business, civic and economic vitality of Newport County and greater Rhode Island, and to leverage the region's core assets to find solutions in the areas that matter most to businesses and the community: quality jobs, quality growth and quality of life. The Chamber joined together with their region’s business, government, and philanthropic communities to develop a vision for a regional economic development organization.
Greater Newport is comprised of nine communities within Newport County, as well as neighboring Bristol County. However, despite their close proximity and interdependent economies, these communities have not had a history of collaboration. Furthermore, none of these communities had dedicated economic development staff, aside from limited capacity at the City of Newport. As a result, a group of leaders formed a steering committee, recognizing the need for a shared vision and collaboration to support the growth of their economy. The Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce retained Fourth Economy Consulting to create and manage the implementation of a five-year strategic plan for this new initiative.
Our team performed data analysis, research, and interviews. We then worked with the Steering Committee to develop a strategic plan focused on: adding capacity for local economic development; marketing the region’s business opportunities; retaining and attracting talent; and supporting and leveraging existing industries.
Connect Greater Newport was launched in 2018. We began the process with a traditional business calling program as our highest priority; through that work and our other involvement in the region, workforce housing emerged as a key barrier to economic success. Addressing this challenge spurred the creation of new partnerships and creative strategies, including a regional housing symposium. Broadband access, reliability, and affordability became another area of focus that we that we continue to work on in the region.
Other initiatives our team has implemented thus far include the creation of the Connect Greater Newport website, promotion of opportunities in the region to 30,000 visitors at the Newport Folk Fest, and orchestration of a Business Walk that included over 100 businesses in the region. Most notably, we secured the buy-in and support of the region’s municipalities and business leaders, who have renewed their investment in the initiative.
Economic Development Strategy
Economic Development Organization