2014-06-19 / Around Town

New Group Formed To Boost City's Future

By Jacquelyn Moorehead

Local residents and business owners have formed a new group, Residents for Economic Vitality (REV), to effect change and work on issues in Newport. Its mission is a “community effort dedicated to insuring that Newport is the finest city in which to live and work, now and for generations to come.”

REV advisory board members Bill Corcoran, John Edick, Matthew Gray, Sharyn Harrington, Steve Kirby, T.R. McGrath, Paul O’Reilly, and Jody Sullivan began talking in January about starting a group for Newport, and have just gone public this month.

Kirby, owner of a local real estate company, said the group’s intention is to build a sizeable membership that meets and discusses unplanned consequences of the city’s actions that affect quality of life now and in the future. “I’m hoping it gives our city leaders a broader look at the consequences of various issues,” he said.

Although REV’s meetings are private for the time being, the group intends to open meetings to the public soon. “We need a good foundation first. The idea is to go slow,” Kirby said.

REV membership is free and open to the public. Interested participants can send contact information to the group through its website, along with comments (residentsforeconomicvitality.com). So far, Kirby said participants’ comments have varied from parking and new jobs to people who want more yoga. Around one in four applicants leave a comment. “Most who join understand we’re just getting going,” Kirby reported. “A lot of comments are asking about sustainable careers.”

Another group member, Jody Sullivan, Chamber of Commerce executive director, is pleased to see that a group like this is establishing itself.

Members of the community are reaching out to REV to learn more about city government. Kirby said the younger generation, in particular, is excited to learn about how it works, and wants to become more involved. He said people see it as a way to be heard by the city.

Kirby said REV wants to make sure everyone is being heard. “If you have a big enough organization like this, there will be more than one voice. It’s entirely open, every person, every view; it’s an allinclusive organization.”

In the near future, he believes REV will become more widely known. “It’s going to very quickly, over the next few months, become much more dynamic.” Kirby said most people in Newport want to know that where they’re living is economically sustainable, and are looking for groups like REV that are getting together and taking a look down the road asking, “What do we have to do to make a living here?”

REV plans to hold a big kick-off event soon as a way for members to get together and talk about ideas. Kirby said, “This is for anyone with a stake in the game, who lives here, who works here. It’s for Newporters across the board.”

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