Featured Town: Narragansett

Population: 15,868

Date of Town: 1888

Date of Incorporation: 1901

Total Area: 37.8 square miles; 14.2 square miles (Land)



The Town of Narragansett is widely recognized as one of the area’s classic vacation communities.  Although a popular beach destination, the town is a year-round community, and is on a mission to let business owners know that they mean business.

With commercial tax rates comparable to other cities and towns in the state, Narragansett provides not only a beautiful location, but great incentive…and businesses are beginning to take notice.  T’s Restaurant recently moved to the Salt Pond Shopping Plaza on Point Judith Road and Centreville Bank is moving to the North End of town, to name a few.  Not to mention businesses expanding their footprint in the area, like Narragansett Bikes (NBX) relocating to a larger space in town.  “It’s not everywhere that you can stay in the center of town and grab a coffee, then walk across the street to grab lunch,” said Dean Hoxsie, Acting Town Manager.  “If a business is looking for good consumer access and convenience, you have it here.”  Narragansett is also now home to two charter schools, Middlebridge School and Quest Montessori School.  The influx of new students to the area offers great opportunity for business exposure.

With a variety of unique shops and restaurants around town, Narragansett is no stranger to small businesses.  Everything you need to start a business in Narragansett can be found at the local Town Hall.  “We do our best to facilitate a smooth process for businesses by providing the information essential for new and existing business operations,” said Hoxsie.   Businesses can one-stop shop for information on the licensing process, regulations and zoning concerns.  The town also maintains excellent working relationships with outside resources, like the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce, to help inform new businesses entering the area. 

In addition, Narragansett is the first town in Rhode Island to produce a comprehensive economic development plan with participation from all stakeholder groups.  The process included stakeholder engagement with hundreds of residents involved.  “Narragansett is challenged by supporting the local businesses with the number of full-time residents,” added Hoxsie. “The economic development plan will be used to guide the future economy and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

With a new plan in place, Narragansett is fostering a healthy, sustainable community while keeping a strong balance for both residents and businesses.   The town hired an economic development coordinator to focus on tracking and implementing the plan’s 5-action oriented objectives, including the development of the three identifiable economic centers of town:  Galilee, the Pier area, and the North End.  The Port of Galilee is a major asset economically for both Narragansett and the state alike.  As the second largest commercial fishing port in New England, Galilee provides a fishing port, restaurants and shops, as well as a tourism hub to Block Island.  The Narragansett Pier area, located in the physical center of Town, includes restaurants, quaint shops and bed and breakfasts.  The North End of Narragansett is largely residential, and also features offices, restaurants and shops and also houses the University of Rhode Island School of Oceanography and Bay Campus.

“Nine months out of the year we have 16,000 undergraduates in our neighboring community who frequent our local shops and restaurants,” said Hoxsie. “A normal daily population on any given summer day can reach to up to 60,000 people with residents, seasonal rentals and day commuters… and that’s not bad for business.”

What’s next for Narragansett?  Current negotiations between Narragansett and Deepwater Wind, LLC for their proposed wind farm off of Block Island could ultimately create hundreds of construction jobs, both temporary and permanent in the area.  If the proposal is passed, this will be the first commercial wind farm of its type in the country.  “With all that Narragansett has to offer – the environment, coastline, and close-knit community, we truly have all the pieces in place for businesses to succeed.”

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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