Law­mak­ers to Gov.: Keep Has­bro here

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

PAWTUCKET – A coali­tion of 14 law­mak­ers from Pawtucket, Cen­tral Falls, and East Prov­i­dence signed their name to a let­ter ad­dressed to Gov. Gina M. Rai­mondo, im­plor­ing the gov­er­nor to do “ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble” to keep Has­bro in Pawtucket, where they say the toy com­pany will be able to grow and thrive in a re­de­vel­op­ing city.

The leg­is­la­tors’ let­ter called on the gov­er­nor, her ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Rhode Is­land Com­merce Cor­po­ra­tion to re­tain Has­bro, not­ing that it would be a “dev­as­tat­ing loss” to the Black­stone Val­ley if the com­pany de­cides to re­lo­cate.

“Has­bro is one of Rhode Is­land’s great­est com­pa­nies, and we want to work to­gether with you and your ad­min­is­tra­tion to do ev­ery­thing in our power to keep them in Pawtucket where they have been head­quar­tered and have thrived for more than 80 years,” the one-page let­ter reads. “We want Has­bro here in Pawtucket. Our com­mu­ni­ties need this great cor­po­rate cit­i­zen, along with the as- so­ci­ated jobs and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, in order to grow our North­ern Rhode Is­land econ­omy.”

“Put sim­ply, it would be a dev­as­tat­ing loss to Pawtucket, Cen­tral Falls, East Prov­i­dence, and the greater Black­stone Val­ley if Has­bro de­cides to re­lo­cate. With more than 1,500 as­so­ci­ated jobs and $60 mil­lion in earn­ings, we sim­ply can­not af­ford to lose Has­bro as an eco­nomic pil­lar of our cities, and our re­gion’s econ­omy,” the let­ter states. “Such a loss would fur­ther lower the per capita in­come in our com­mu­ni­ties and re­duce op­por­tu­ni­ties for our res­i­dents.”

The let­ter is signed by Pawtucket rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dis­trict 58 State Rep. Car­los E. Tobon, Dis­trict 59 State Rep. Jean Philippe Bar­ros, Dis­trict 60 State Rep. Karen Alzate, Dis­trict 61 State Rep. Ray­mond H. John­ston Jr., and Dis­trict 62 State Rep. Mary Duffy Messier; Pawtucket Sen­a­tors Dis­trict 8 State Sen. San­dra Cano, Dis­trict 15 State Sen. Donna M. Nes­sel­bush, Dis­trict 16 State Sen. El­iz­a­beth A. Crow­ley, and

Dis­trict 18 State Sen. Wil­liam J. Con­ley Jr.

Con­trib­u­tors from East Prov­i­dence in­clude Dis­trict 63 State Rep. Kather­ine S. Kazar­ian, Dis­trict 64 State Rep. Joe R. Sero­dio, and Dis­trict 65 State Rep. Gregg Amore, while Dis­trict 56 State Rep. Shelby Mal­don­ado and Dis­trict 57 State Rep. James McLaugh­lin rep­re­sent Cen­tral Falls.

The 14 law­mak­ers com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing to work

hand-in-hand with Pawtucket Mayor Don­ald R. Gre­bien and the lead­er­ship in the House and Sen­ate on a “vi­sion­ary de­vel­op­ment and in­cen­tive pack­age” that would al­low Has­bro to re­main head­quar­tered in Pawtucket and serve as a cat­a­lyst for Pawtucket’s re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

The let­ter-writ­ers also asked that the Rai­mondo ad­min­is­tra­tion keep Gre­bien and the city’s elected lead­ers “in the loop” as the mat­ter evolves, say­ing that fail­ure to do so is “sim­ply un­ac­cept­able.”

“Com­men­tary

that the state is wait­ing for Pawtucket’s plan places us at odds when, in re­al­ity, we need to work to­gether, as these is­sues and our col­lec­tive ap­proach to them is ‘part and par­cel’ to the state’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, which, as we all know, is con­trolled by your Com­merce team,” the let­ter to the gov­er­nor says. “We have sup­ported the creation of and con­tin­ued fund­ing for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment tools at your dis­posal, and those tools should be used to keep Has­bro in Pawtucket and to grow our state’s en­tire econ­omy, not

sim­ply move our im­por­tant busi­nesses to Prov­i­dence.”

If Has­bro were to re­lo­cate out of Pawtucket, it would be noth­ing short of dev­as­tat­ing for Pawtucket and its neigh­bor­ing cities of Cen­tral Falls and East Prov­i­dence. Ac­cord­ing to an im­pact study con­ducted by a New York­based eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment con­sult­ing firm, Has­bro’s de­par­ture from Pawtucket could come at a cost of 1,513 jobs and $60.24 mil­lion in earn­ings.

In Pawtucket alone, los­ing Has­bro to a con­sol­i­dated fa­cil­ity that in­cor­po­rates all of

its Rhode Is­land op­er­a­tions in a sin­gle lo­ca­tion would lead to 1,074 to­tal jobs lost and $41.04 mil­lion lost in earn­ings, ac­cord­ing to the study by Camoin As­so­ci­ates, which mod­eled the eco­nomic im­pact of a sce­nario in which Has­bro con­sol­i­dates its op­er­a­tions in Prov­i­dence.

Pawtucket’s Di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tion Dy­lan M. Ze­lazo on Fri­day said that Gre­bien has had com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rai­mondo, Has­bro rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and mem­bers of both the House and Sen­ate.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a mat­ter of crit­i­cal im­por­tance for the city. They’re our largest em­ployer and tax­payer, they have a lot of value for the city from an iden­tity per­spec­tive and his­tory per­spec­tive, and we want to make sure they have a bright fu­ture here in Pawtucket,” Ze­lazo said. “The let­ter reflects (the leg­is­la­tors’) con­cern as well as their hope that the state, which has the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment tools to make a project hap­pen here in Pawtucket, will do all it can to make some­thing hap­pen here.”

Ze­lazo em­pha­sized that Has­bro of­fi­cials have “repeatedly com­mu­ni­cated that Pawtucket is very much still in

the run­ning” for the com­pany’s long-term home, say­ing the toy giant is try­ing to find a lo­ca­tion that fits both their space and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture needs. To that end, Ze­lazo said, the city is “com­mit­ted to do­ing any­thing we can to make that hap­pen in Pawtucket.”

“When they are ready to sit down, Pawtucket will very much be given the op­por­tu­nity to make its case...” he said. “The city stands ready to do that. We have a lot of re­sources we’re will­ing to bring to bear to make sure we can put to­gether a com­pet­i­tive pack­age. We’ve got some great op­por­tu­nity in our down­town, (in prox­im­ity) to the new train sta­tion. The area around the new sta­tion, we think, has a num­ber of lo­ca­tions if they can’t retro­fit the cur­rent fa­cil­ity to meet their needs. We be­lieve we’ve got the abil­ity to meet their needs else­where in the city.”

“We are pre­pared to have that con­ver­sa­tion...” Ze­lazo added. “This is a pri­or­ity and Pawtucket stands as a very com­mit­ted and will­ing part­ner for Has­bro’s fu­ture.”

Jonathan Bis­son­nette on Twit­ter: @J_Bis­son­nette

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