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Spotlight on the Statehouse: Oct. 28, 2015

Running back to Rhode Island

Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 dropped out of the race to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States Friday.

Chafee ran on a platform focused on foreign policy, touting his vote against the Iraq War and his experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he served on Capitol Hill from 1999 to 2007.

“I think we can do better internationally. I think America’s been, as I say, acting with our biceps, not our brains, and making bad decisions that have major consequences for future generations,” Chafee told The Herald in April.

But only a handful of supporters rallied behind him: Chafee raised only $8,300 from 10 major donors in the last quarter, National Public Radio reported Friday. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, also vying for the Democratic nomination, raised $29.9 million and $26.2 million, respectively, during the third quarter, according to the New York Times. In the first Democratic debate, which lasted approximately two hours, Chafee spoke for only nine minutes, NPR reported.

Elorza launches small business grant program

Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the Providence Design Catalyst program, intended to help “enabl(e) small businesses to get off the ground and grow in the Creative Capital” Friday, according to a city press release.

The program will draw from $500,000 of federal funds designated for art- and design-based economic growth to provide $35,000 grants for design-based small businesses, according to the press release. The city will support the grantees “through a series of workshops that establish a plan for growing their business by identifying achievable milestones and goals.”

“It’s exciting to see Providence support design — a sector that is so woven into the fabric of our city,” said Aidan Petrie, a member of the program’s steering committee, and CIO at the medical product development company Ximedica, in the press release.

DESIGNxRI — an initiative seeking to highlight the Ocean State’s design- and creative-sector industries — along with the Rhode Island School of Design and Social Enterprise Greenhouse are working in collaboration with the city to spearhead the program. SEG is a network of business and community leaders supporting social entrepreneurs and enterprises, according to the group’s website.

Small business owners can apply for a grant through Nov. 15.

Federal grant will support new travel plaza

Rhode Island has received a $9 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to fund the majority of a $12 million travel plaza and welcome center at exit one along I-95 in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, according to an Oct. 26 press release from the Office of Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI.

“This is an opportunity to build a first-class travel plaza that offers visitors and local residents new, convenient retail, food, fuel and travel options. … There is a lot of competition for these federal grants and I commend Governor (Gina) Raimondo for making the case for the state’s application,” Reed said in the press release.

The facility will be built on a 20-acre site and feature a welcome center with food vendors, shops, bike amenities, local information resources and restrooms. There will also be a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus hub, including a park-and-ride facility and fueling stations, according to the press release.

The press release also noted that the proposed center will break up a 100-mile stretch of highway currently without any travel plazas, which could improve safety by enabling drowsy drivers to rest.


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