New RI group focused on saving construction industry

A new coalition says Rhode Island needs to create a better climate for construction.

A vice president for a Rhode Island construction company said Tuesday if the city of Providence does not create a better climate for construction, it will follow in the footsteps of a major Midwestern city.

"Detroit," said John Sinnott, of Gilbane Building Company.

Sinnott is a member of a newly formed construction coalition of labor representatives, contractors and economic professors focused on improving the state's economy and saving the construction industry.

The group released a study Tuesday emphasizing the role construction plays in growing jobs.

"I think the initial investment has to come from us in Rhode Island to attract other people as well, and that starts with a modern infrastructure," said Michael Sabitoni.

According to the study, in 2013, construction supported nearly 30,000 jobs, created 7.7 percent of the state's GDP and created $1.35 billion for employees. It shows the industry has barely seen a bump since 2009.

"Regulations are an issue, permitting, entitlements, cash investment from the private sector, all of the above," Sinnott said.

The coalition said fixing the problem doesn't necessarily mean spending more money. It could mean tax breaks on certain construction projects or a streamlined permitting process.

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