What is it?

The City of Newport, RI has been working for four years on an economic diversification and job creation initiative which revolves around a systems approach to making the City more resilient as it addresses the challenges posed by natural and man-made events. This systems approach recognizes the synergies of these challenges and the possible opportunities in addressing them as we develop our civic infrastructure in response – the built, natural, economic, social/political, health and cultural environments of our City. To advance the system, our vision is to create a global scientific, technological and convening center that focuses on resilience, ocean and defense technologies that include:

  • applied oceanographic research
  • defense/cyber applications
  • environmental technology
  • alternative energy
  • green infrastructure
  • meta data industries
  • community resilience

The initiative takes advantage of the City’s history, location, beauty and diverse community to produce a fertile environment for dependable, replicable and science-based applied research for the benefit of coastal communities nationwide, and involves the development of a 60+ acre property adjacent to the Pell Bridge, Newport’s primary artery into the City.

What has happened so far?

To promote this vision, the City’s Department of Civic Investment developed a portfolio of 12 projects to make the City more resilient in a crisis. Aware of the increasing inability of the public sector at the national, state or local level to fund such civic infrastructure projects at a meaningful level, Newport initiated an effort to attract and recruit the private sector and growing impact investment groups to assist the City structure, develop, fund and manage these projects.

The City issued a national RFP to attract such a private sector group, resulting in the City of Newport entering into a Primary Project Advisor and Strategic Partner arrangement with a private sector consortium. The initial consortium included:

Infralinx Capital (lead member)

The Louis Berger Group

Gilbane Construction

Dentons Law

Since the signing of the agreement with the City, the consortium has added another substantial investment and impact investment firm called G2 Investments.

In May, 2016, the City signed Rhode Island’s first Partnership Intermediary Agreement with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) at Naval Station Newport for commercialization, in conjunction with the NPDC, of NUWC undersea and defense technology.

Concurrently, the consortium formed the Newport Project Development Company and began promoting Newport as a national test case/incubator around resilience, as well as a national test case for how public, private and impact funding can drive a new eco-system for the development, execution and management of civic infrastructure (improvements?).

In one year, the NPDC has brought forward several major projects with private/impact investment. These include:

  • Urban agriculture, based on state of the art hydroponics and design – recruited firm Hydroserre
  • A Phase One urban critical facility test case micro grid – recruited firm TBD
  • A global ocean research corporation to utilize Newport as both its home port and global headquarters – recruited firm TBD
  • A cyber security firm East Coast headquarters to serve the public sector, medical institution and education markets – recruited firm TBD