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What's better: good jobs or more condos?

Making a spot-on case, the ProJo editorializes strongly in favor of the former:

Instead of doing all they can to develop the full potential of Providence as a working port, some public figures are, almost unbelievably, trying to undermine it. Mayor Cicilline, for one, has been advocating “mixed-use” zoning that would bring in marinas (not exactly a full-fledged year-round business in these parts), retail stores and condo developments. These would surely bring pressures to develop the rest of the port that way, and meanwhile place all sorts of limitations on working-port companies, very soon making it harder to retain their high-paying blue-collar jobs. Condo inhabitants would demand that “gritty” (but essential to our economy) companies be forced out. (Just what we need –– more condos. . . .)

Mayor Cicilline argues that such non-working-port developments could boost waterfront real-estate values. But there are plenty of places where developers, politically connected or not, could throw up condos in Rhode Island without putting them in close proximity to Providence’s working port — a crucial place for the region’s fuel and other shipments. The trade-off would be little short of a disaster for the region’s economy.

Service and retail jobs do not pay nearly what these existing port jobs do. According to the study, it would take 1,200 retail jobs to achieve the same level of household income as the jobs at the existing businesses. Rhode Island needs year-round manufacturing and distribution jobs, not more low-paying condo and restaurant jobs reminiscent of an impoverished Caribbean island.

Rhode Island has severe budget problems. It needs an economy — with high-paying jobs — to help pay for government. Ports, by definition, stimulate economic activity in ways that condo developments never can. Unlike condos, however glitzy, ports boost trade and create large numbers of spin-off jobs for manufacturers, distributors and many other workers.

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