In a city with an unemployment rate well above the national average, in a state with among the worst unemployment rates, the mayor of Providence released a plan Wednesday trying to tackle it all.
"We have to know that we can succeed, we have to believe we can succeed," Mayor Angel Taveras said at news conference.
Taveras released a 20-point plan that he said will lower unemployment and attract jobs. Of those 20 points, the mayor said he wants to prioritize five things.
- Freezing commercial tax rates
- Streamlining the often lengthy permitting process to help new businesses build
- Streamlining existing construction projects
- Offering tax incentives to develop surface parking lots citywide
- Reinventing Kennedy Plaza
"We need to turn Kennedy Plaza into a vibrant cultural and commercial gateway to our downtown that acts as a true destination for visitors from Rhode Island and beyond," Taveras said.
Not everyone in Providence is on board with this plan.
Nick Durden of Providence said redeveloping Kennedy Plaza isn't the answer.
"How many times can we redevelop Kennedy Plaza? What's that going to do?" Durden said.
Taveras said a lack of consumer confidence is a huge part of the problem. He said this is just as much of a pep talk as it is a plan.
Kenneth Dulin, of Newport, he said he'd like to move to Providence but the jobs just aren't here.
"A lot of students and people my age, we don't have the proper connections we need to talk to people in higher places," Dulin said.
Taveras does prioritize education in the 20-step plan.
Taveras was more hopeful Wednesday than in 2011 when he passed a $641 million budget saying it was needed to address "the category 5 fiscal hurricane and pull Providence back from the brink of fiscal collapse."
Taveras will introduce a new budget to the City Council in the coming weeks, which will include a payment plan for his next 20 steps.