The residual impact of the recent Newport Gas Crisis could ripple for months as businesses recover and await reimbursement from state emergency funds, National Grid and other private outfits.
The crisis, which saw thousands of residents and businesses without the ability to heat their homes and facilities for nearly a week, appears to be the result of a loss of pressure to National Grid’s Aquidneck Island infrastructure, potentially the effect of a sudden, high demand for gas as temperatures plummeted on Aquidneck Island.
The fiasco hit in the the teeth of what is already an economically challenging stretch for the largely seasonal island city and abutting municipality Middletown - the post-holiday and pre-St. Patrick’s Day timespan.
While recovery and reimbursement measures undertaken by Grid, actions taken by Governor Raimondo, Lieutenant Governor McKee, local organizations and philanthropists may aid individuals, large and small businesses, suppliers and some vendors in the immediate aftermath, many freelance vendor elements of Newport’s economy will face a potential monthslong struggle to regain traction - and work opportunities - following the Gas Crisis.
As small businesses recover, their ability to expend resources will be depleted or at the very least, slowed. For example, a restaurant’s ability to explore new beverage options, hire musicians, go about off season facility improvements, invest in branding, like graphics, ad and media buys, and to support area foundations will be challenged, and could create a ripple effect across Newport’s vast freelance economy in the thick of the offseason.
Here are 8 economic areas that could face residual economic burdens, and may not fall into the qualifications to receive reimbursement or assistance:
It is critical that Newport’s freelance economy be included in any comprehensive aid and reimbursement packages related to the 2019 Gas Crisis and subsequent economic recovery.
Bill Bartholomew is a podcast host, producer and musician based in Providence, RI. He can be heard live every Tuesday at 6pm on 990wbob.com
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