The plan to grow Rhode Island's economy is already in full swing. We are investing more in our infrastructure and finding permanent ways to finance preventive maintenance on our roads and bridges. Another key element of our infrastructure is our leading access to broadband. Rhode Island ranks No. 3 in the nation in broadband coverage and No. 1 in broadband speed.
The assets that we're capitalizing on are also extremely important. For example, Rhode Island's Quonset Business Park (the site of two former naval installations) is now one of the premier business parks in New England and one of the largest in the Northeast. Quonset is home to more than 9,100 full- and part-time jobs and 175 companies, and its Port of Davisville is the seventh-largest auto importer in North America. Auto imports at Davisville rose 14 percent in 2012, making it a record-breaking year with more than 216,000 autos arriving at the port via sea, rail and truck.
(Read More: The New Geography of American Prosperity)
In addition to the success we have seen at the auto-port, Rhode Island has a robust defense industry. Despite the challenges that sequestration has put on many government contractors, we anticipate extended job growth from some of the largest defense companies here, including General Dynamics' Electric Boat.
Other assets include more than 21 acres of downtown space that will be redeveloped as a result of the relocation of Route I-195. Newport will host the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time after being named the only U.S. stop on the route for the 12th edition of sailing's premier round-the-world challenge in 2014-15.
An environment where businesses can grow also means providing them with a workforce that can make their companies stronger. That's why educating a 21st-century workforce is also one of our state's top priorities. Since fiscal 2011, Rhode Island has provided an additional $79.3 million toward its education system and initiated a $17.2 million investment over five years to improve vocational schools.
The Governor's Workforce Board has provided $3 million for training and internship programs throughout the state, and Rhode Island was one of six states awarded two grants from the federal Race to the Top program. The state will invest $50 million over four years to improve early learning and development opportunities, and $75 million over four years for schools, educators and student support in adopting rigorous standards and using data to inform school decisions.