Newport Harbor with boat masts and outdoor restaurant seating at 22 Bowen's wine bar and grille

Connect Greater Newport

Newport and Bristol County, RI
THE CLIENT

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.

 

THE CHALLENGE

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 APPROACH

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. 

 

THE RESULTS

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 continue to work on in the region.

In the past year we have been working to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic. This has included engaging with impacted businesses and residents to understand their needs and then securing the resources to help. We also performed an extensive impact analysis that helped guide regional and state responses to the community. 

PROJECT TYPE

Economic Development Strategy

SCALE

Regional

CLIENT TYPE

Economic Development Organization