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Aquidneck Island’s three municipalities are banding together to help the island’s economy recover from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The City of Newport today announced that they have join the towns of Middletown and Portsmouth on a joint effort to help businesses re-open and job seekers get back to work as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.

In addition to providing for close coordination between the island’s three communities, the newly created Aquidneck Island Economic Recovery Partnership will also draw support from Discover Newport, the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce and various trade and industry partners, according to a press release from the City of Newport..

This multi-sector partnership is being launched in tandem with an Executive Order issued by Gov. Gina Raimondo allowing for non-critical retail and other businesses to resume operations as part of a phased reopening plan.

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Phase I of Governor Raimondo’s Reopening Rhode Island plan began on Saturday, May 9th.

“We’re expecting to hear from businesses now that the Governor has provided guidelines for re-opening,” said Middletown Town Administrator Shawn Brown in the release. “By working together to coordinate our response, we’re hoping to better position Aquidneck Island to resume operations and get back to business.”

One of the first initiatives the Partnership is undertaking is an online business survey intended to provide municipal leaders deeper insight into the current challenges being faced by the island’s business community thereby helping city and town leaders better align their response.

A link to the survey can be found on each municipality’s website and at https://bit.ly/2Z1iNBm.

“We recognize that these are extremely challenging times for local business owners and our goal is to be as nimble and responsive as possible as we begin this critical re-opening phase,” Newport City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson, Jr. said in the release. “Our goal with this initiative is to begin a collaborative dialogue with our entire business community in order to remove or soften any obstacles they perceive as impeding their ability to endure the pandemic while ensuring the continued health and safety of our community.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has created an existential crisis for our local business community, and we need to work together to facilitate their recovery,” added Portsmouth Town Administrator Richard Rainer in the release.

In addition to providing direct local support to Aquidneck Island’s businesses, the Partnership will also provide support to a regional Economic Recovery Task Force being led by the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce and Connect Greater Newport.

This broader effort will seek to accelerate the island’s recovery by leveraging our region’s community assets and developing short-term programs to support business retention and pursuing longer-term efforts aimed at mitigating sustained economic impacts.

To take the Partnership’s COVID-19 economic impact survey, please visit CityofNewport.com/COVIDSurvey or https://bit.ly/2Z1iNBm.

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