University of Rhode Island kicks off ‘Vote Yes on 1’ bond campaign

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – September 28, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island today announced the kickoff of the “Vote Yes on 1” campaign to promote approval of Question 1 on this year’s November ballot. Passage of Question 1 will provide $100 million in bonds for much needed improvements to the University’s globally known Narragansett Bay Campus, the leader of Rhode Island’s ocean economy.

“Rhode Islanders have a generational opportunity to position Rhode Island and New England as the global leader in a new Blue Economy with URI as the engine that fuels that activity,” said Marc Parlange, president of URI. “With the support of this bond, URI can create a thriving, modern Bay Campus that will spur critical job creation and economic development, drive innovation, and create sustainable and equitable career opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.”

Gov. Dan McKee; Parlange; and business, community, and elected leaders gathered at a kick-off event on the University’s Bay Campus Wednesday morning. Several speakers noted that the bond would position Rhode Island to continue as an international leader in the Blue Economy.

Rhode Island Gov. Daniel J. McKee, state legislators, business leaders and other officials on hand for the “Vote Yes on 1” campaign launch. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

“As the state’s flagship research institution, an investment in the University of Rhode Island is an investment in the state as a whole,” said Gov. McKee. “This investment in the Narragansett Bay Campus will help us continue to be a leader in the Blue Economy, leveraging partnerships with industry leaders, advancing scientific knowledge of our oceans, and creating good paying jobs in the process.

President Parlange and Paula Bontempi, dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, at the campaign kickoff. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

“So let’s support this bond. I will be voting yes. I will be asking everyone to follow my lead. We can afford it and it’s a good investment for the state of Rhode Island,” the governor said.

The Blue Economy—which includes the defense industry, tourism, marine trades, fisheries, and soon, offshore wind—is a critical driver of the state’s economy, generating more than $5 billion every year. By 2030, that total is projected to double to $10 billion.

“These investments are necessary to continue to position Rhode Island and URI as a leading international center of excellence for research and a hub of economic activity. The scientific discoveries and commercial applications being developed at URI are helping to address global issues including climate change and food security, support the Blue Economy and generate revenue for the state,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

“To keep the momentum going and to capitalize on the opportunities URI’s success has generated, the state must double down and ensure that the Narragansett Bay Campus has world-class labs and academic facilities that meet the standards of other competing research institutions. Rhode Island cannot afford to fall behind at a time when others are charging full steam ahead,” White said.

Oscar Mejias, president and chief executive officer of the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that this bond would be an important investment for the Hispanic community.

“We have 800 businesses who are members of our chamber, from construction to professional service, in food and other industries,” Mejias said.

“Our community wants to be an active part of this investment,” Mejias said. “You have our commitment, and we have full confidence in this project. We want to be fully part of the Blue Economy and economic development overall. By working together, we can make big things happen.”

Michael F. Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, started his remarks by talking about his pride in the University as an alumnus and the many family members, including his three children, who have benefitted from a URI education.

“This is a no brainer as an investment in the marine sciences here in the Ocean State,” Sabitoni said. “I have been around a long time on a lot of different bond questions. I echo what the governor said. This is not just a one-off. This is a plan to continue investments that make sense. Yes, we can afford it, but we can’t afford not to do this.”

In addition to the Bay Campus event, the “Vote Yes on 1” campaign also launched its online and social media campaign. To get involved or find more information, visit, follow @URIYesOn1, and use #URIYesOn1.