Grow Smart RI, an organization that promotes sustainable and equitable economic growth, will explore critical development issues with a series of online panel discussions, held weekly from June to September. 

Grow Smart is adapting its Power of Place Summit to go virtual, beginning with a June 3 panel discussion, culminating in a half-day virtual plenary in September. Those already registered for the Summit will be emailed a password to join the discussions and plenary session.

Scott Wolf, Grow Smart executive director, said the discussions will deal with many issues evolving from the coronavirus pandemic.

Among areas that will be explored, Wolf said: “How will the ongoing pandemic and the reaction to it affect the future of our communities, including our Main Streets and Downtowns?  Will there be a “new normal” for everyday life, how long will it last and how can we best adapt to regain what we love about our state?  And what is the path forward for long-term economic and community recovery and how can smart growth principles ensure the most successful and sustainable recovery possible?  How will we look back at this moment ten years from now?  The truth is we are all just beginning to explore these questions and we look forward examining them in more detail with you in the coming months.”  

Wolf said that in September, the discussion will be joined live online by Scot Spencer of Smart Growth America and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and award-winning columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post, and Brookings Institution.  

Spencer, Grow Smart said, will provide an informed perspective on reducing poverty, promoting public health, and confronting climate change based both on his decades of experience at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and his longstanding chairmanship of Smart Growth America.  He will explore what policymakers and practitioners can do to improve the likelihood that people, businesses, and communities – both urban and rural – are set up for long-term success in a post-covid marketplace. He will also discuss the status of Smart Growth America’s federal recommendations for economic and community recovery from Covid-19. 

Grow Smart said E.J. Dionne, Jr., Washington Post syndicated columnist, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University Professor will speak about how finding common ground among those with differing views remains our only hope – whether it’s for smarter growth or the nation’s recovery from Covid-19.  The Fall River, MA native will share his perspective on the state of our national politics and his evolving thinking about which groups with different views most need to focus on their shared goals and aspirations.  The New York Times bestselling author will discuss his recently published book, Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country and relate it to the type of methodical consensus building that has worked so well in producing the many community benefits of smart growth – especially for our post-industrial cities such as Fall River, Woonsocket, Pawtucket and so many others which are in various stages of reinventing themselves as stronger, more vibrant and opportunity-rich places.  

For further information about the panel discussions and the Summit visit Grow Smart’s website at

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.