Rhode Island Universities Break Ground on Nursing School

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The presidents of three Rhode Island universities — alongside a number of political, educational, design and construction representatives — broke ground Dec. 15 on the new Rhode Island Nursing Education Center. This sprawling facility will provide top level nursing education to students from the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, as well as administrative space to Brown University, at an estimated construction cost of $215 million.

“Rhode Island College is proud to be part of this historic collaboration between the public and private sectors,” Rhode Island College President Dr. Nancy Carriuolo said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “…The Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, will help our state grow the educated workforce it needs to meet the changing needs of its number-one industry sector: health care."

The project will renovate and repurpose the vacant and abandoned South Street Power Station on Providence’s Eddy Street. This point in particular inspired Mayor Angel Taveras to refer to the project as a “transformational moment” for the state’s economy, according to the Providence Journal. The project is also expected to create up to 500 new construction jobs, as well nearly 400 indirect jobs, generating a potential $5 million in new tax revenue.

The Nursing Education Center is also expected to advance Rhode Island’s role as a regional leader in health care and nursing education. In addition to establishing new classrooms and related office space, the project will include extensive improvements to the site’s existing power plant as well as the construction of a new six-story graduate student housing facility, a new 650-space parking structure and various landscaping and site improvements.

An agreement reached by the three institutions in early 2014 will divide the roughly 265,000-square-foot complex in half, with one portion reserved for Brown University offices and the other dedicated to learning and teaching spaces for the other two institutions. The project currently aims for a mid 2016 completion.

“Reaching this important milestone in this highly complex project has required the commitment and tenacity of our private and public sector partners,” said Brown President Christina Paxson, in a statement. “Today, we set the stage to transform a staggering liability into a gleaming asset, providing opportunities for meaningful academic connections that will have lasting benefits for our institutions, our city, and our state.”

“The Nursing Education Center will certainly play a role in the economic recovery of our state,” added Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello. “The training that our future nurses and health care professionals will receive at this first-class facility will open the door for good-paying job opportunities. I am so pleased that the state has made this investment in support of three great institutions of Brown, URI and RIC to make this groundbreaking possible.”