Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman David Cicilline today announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls a $230,000 grant to create a joint economic development action plan.
“Under the leadership of Mayors Diossa and Grebien, Central Falls and Pawtucket have worked together for years to advance the economies of both of their cities. This federal funding, which I was pleased to work with Senator Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline to secure, will help them enhance that partnership as they plot out future economic development to help their communities and local businesses recover and thrive,” said Senator Reed.
“Congratulations to Mayors Grebien and Diossa—two great champions for their respective cities—on winning this federal grant to encourage job growth in the heart of the Blackstone Valley,” said Senator Whitehouse. “The funding comes in time to help map a path out of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, which has hit Pawtucket and Central Falls particularly hard.”
<“I’m proud of Mayors Grebien and Diossa for being awarded this competitive grant,” Congressman Cicilline said. “This grant couldn’t have come at a better time and will help develop a plan to support future economic and business development initiatives and help create jobs.”
Both Pawtucket and Central Falls are former industrial powerhouses that welcomed waves of immigrants over the past two centuries. The funding from the EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Program will be used to develop a detailed economic development plan to guide future growth in the two cities and examine existing workforce strengths and needs. The plan will include a feasibility study for the creation of a new workforce training and innovation center. The grant will also allow the cities to explore options for redeveloping a vacant 12-acre lot that was formerly the site of the Osram Sylvania lightbulb factory in Central Falls.
“The City of Pawtucket thanks Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, and Congressman Cicilline for once again stepping up for Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley. The grant to support the Joint Economic Development Plan will allow both cities to chart a course forward for the economic future of both cities,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “With the ongoing pandemic, this project has also taken on a new significance, particularly the workforce development and training center study component, which could be very helpful in identifying the job training and retraining needs of our workforce currently and post-pandemic.”
“The EDA’s investment in Central Falls and Pawtucket for joint economic development is greatly appreciated along with the hard work and dedication of the federal delegation to help our cities receive these funds,” said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa. “Thank you to Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline for providing us with opportunities to boost the economic development in our cities post pandemic.”
Pawtucket and Central Falls already share a joint planning commission tasked with supporting the development of the Conant Thread District that straddles the two cities. In recent months, Pawtucket and Central Falls also created a joint BEAT COVID-19 initiative to help residents of both hard-hit cities weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the continued economic fallout from the pandemic, Rhode Island’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 12.4 percent in June.