The board of directors for the Southern Rhode Island (SRI) Chamber of Commerce recently voted unanimously to address the controversy regarding a proposed high speed ferry run from Quonset to Block Island.
A press release distributed by the Chamber Monday, stated: "While the board would not normally engage in
this debate, recent press coverage could be misinterpreted, and the media has
been active in seeking the Southern Rhode Island Chamber’s position."
Earlier this month, the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce (NCC) wrote a letter opposing Rhode Island Fast Ferry's application with the state to expand ferry service to Block Island. RI Fast Ferry, which operates ferry service to Martha's Vineyard out of Quonset and wants to add Block Island ferry service from the same location, cannot proceed without approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.
Members of the NCC cited concern for Narragansett businesses as the reasoning behind their opposition.
"The Board voted unanimously to oppose the project based on the financial ramifications to the businesses operating in the Town of Narragansett and specifically along the Route 108 corridor and ultimately in the Port of Galilee," reads the NCC's letter. "Any reduction in visitors to the Port of Galilee will cause certain financial harm to existing businesses that rely on the summer swell of commercial trade to sustain their ventures through the off-season."
In Friday's release, members of the Southern RI Chamber stressed their support of local business opportunities and competition between those businesses:
The SRI Chamber does not discourage or oppose any business due to existing competitors already in the marketplace. Any application for a government permit or license must stand on its own merits. The SRI Chamber is confident that the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission will examine the merits of any application and conduct a fair hearing.
The SRI Chamber of Commerce is unabashed in its support of free and fair private competition. “While government certainly has an oversight role, government officials certainly understand that they are not central planners,” said board chair Clay Johnson.
The SRI Chamber supports free markets. While this would seem to be self-evident, the recent media coverage encouraged the SRI Chamber to re-state this obvious position.
“The American free enterprise system has been the driving force for prosperity and equality of opportunity," continued Johnson. "The SRI Chamber recognizes the importance of that force.”