April 28, 2008

Reed and Whitehouse Secure $500,000 to Revitalize Newport’s Working Waterfront and Bolster RI’s Marine Industry

NEWPORT, RI — U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined leaders of the state’s marine industry at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) to announce new federal funding they secured to strengthen Rhode Island’s marine heritage and revitalize Newport’s working waterfront. Reed and Whitehouse secured $500,000 in the 2008 Appropriations spending bill to expand the school’s facilities for marine vocational training and help provide sustainable careers for more Rhode Islanders.

The International Yacht Restoration School will use the money to support the restoration of 1831 Aquidneck Mill Building, a previously derelict landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. The federal funding will also help revitalize the waterfront area on Lower Thames Street, which will in turn attract new businesses to the neighborhood.

“Over the years, the International Yacht Restoration School has helped many hardworking, talented Rhode Islanders hone their craft and develop their boat building and restoration skills. This federal investment will enable the school to expand their reach and help more Rhode Islanders get sustainable, high-paying jobs,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “This funding will also go a long way toward revitalizing Newport’s working waterfront and bring new businesses to the neighborhood.”

“For years, people and businesses have flocked to Rhode Island for our marine trades industry, which is central to our economy and particularly Newport’s waterfront community,” said Whitehouse. “This funding is a smart investment in our state’s future, and in the men and women whose skilled work is known around the world.”

The International Yacht Restoration School is a non-profit institution dedicated to education and maritime preservation. The school teaches the skills, art, and science of building, restoring, and maintaining boats and their systems. IYRS offers intensive programs in traditional boatbuilding and marine systems, employing a time-honored educational model that teaches problem solving, teamwork, project management and hands-on skills. IYRS graduates are highly regarded for their craftsmanship and work in many of the top boat building and restoration yards.

The marine industry is an important business in Rhode Island that accounts for $1.6 billion in sales and currently provides over 6,600 jobs, but there is a 10% job-vacancy rate. The marine workforce will need to grow by some 36% over the next five to ten years to meet the current and anticipated demand for skilled workers.

Reed was joined at the event by Terry Nathan, President, International Yacht Restoration School and Keith Stokes, Executive Director, Newport County Chamber of Commerce.

According to IYRS, once restored, the 30,000-square-foot mill will function as a centerpiece of the Lower Thames Street neighborhood. Not only will the mill accommodate a growing demand for the school’s programs: it will also house a library open to both students and the public and lease space for organizations and businesses. Several firms-including yacht design firm Sparkman & Stephens, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, Confident Captain, Legacy Yachts, and The Museum of Yachting-plan to occupy space in the mill, bringing a new concentration of maritime businesses to the neighborhood.

The mill will enhance the school’s 2.5-acre campus, which is open year-round to the public. Rhode Islanders, tourists, and area school children will benefit from increasingly rare access to this historic waterfront-and a campus that functions as a living and working museum.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921