Media Contact: Todd McLeish 874-7892
URI, nursery association partnership
will help green industries grow
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 15, 2003 -- A new partnership between the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA) is expected to have an important economic development impact on the states "green industries." URI President Robert L. Carothers announced the partnership at the associations annual meeting in Newport this week.
The horticulture industry contributes more than $279 million to Rhode Islands economy and employs more than 8,400 people at 540 different businesses, according to a 1998 report. But the industry is in need of 2,400 additional employees in the state, many of whom must be college graduates trained in the plant sciences.
The primary feature of the partnership will be the funding of a new URI faculty position in horticulture, which will allow increased student enrollment in this discipline.
"This is an exciting new partnership between Rhode Islands land grant institution and RINLA. The goals are more and better educated graduates who can make this industry continue to flourish and grow in the 21st century, and directed research that provides growers with products and practices that will make them more competitive in already very competitive markets," said Jeffrey Seemann, dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences.
"I anticipate that you will see the tools of biotechnology being used to transform this industry in the next decade --- deer resistant plants, salt resistant plants. You name it, well be able to do it," he added.
The new faculty position in URIs Department of Plant Sciences will be filled by September 2003. That faculty member will be responsible for teaching three courses per year and conducting horticulture research in support of Rhode Islands green industries. Research will likely use biotechnology to develop new landscape plants with increased stress tolerance, pest resistance and non-invasiveness qualities. These new plants could have a positive impact on the regions nursery economy.
"URI is committed to being a leader in Rhode Islands economic growth and work force development, and this partnership with RINLA is representative of that commitment," said Carothers.
Through this partnership, the association will provide $50,000 in start-up funding for equipment and supplies for the new faculty member, while URI will provide salary and benefits. The association will assist in preparing the job description and in selecting the candidate to ensure that the new faculty members expertise matches the needs of the industry.
"We've been working closely with the University for many years, and this partnership will only strengthen our relationship," said association President John Manchester. "The University will benefit from the insight and enthusiasm of our experienced members, and the association will benefit by having a growing number of trained, qualified people enter the work force and by having input and access to the research conducted at URI."