Final preparations underway ahead of National Governors Association summer meeting
By Bianca Buono
Preparations are well underway in downtown Providence ahead of the National Governors Association Summer Meeting. In all, 35 governors plus a number of international leaders will be in Rhode Island beginning Thursday for the three day meeting.
"It looks like we will have the highest attendance ever and we will have the most governors we've ever had,” said Scott Pattison, CEO of the National Governors Association.
The meeting is for top leaders to get together and discuss some of the country’s most pressing issues. On the table this year are cyber security, innovation, the opioid crisis and much more.
"The issue that is of most importance to governors right now given what's happening in Washington, D.C. is healthcare,” said Pattison.
Governor Raimondo sees the next few days as an opportunity to showcase the state. Aside from meetings, the schedule consists of a special Waterfire and a trip to Newport.
"We're gonna have a clam bake in Newport, we're gonna have companies coming and I'm hoping to make sure everybody leaves with a great impression,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.
"It really does create a lot of economic development,” Pattison said.
For the first time in the meeting's history, a head of state will be delivering the keynote address on Friday: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"We also have the vice president of the United States, we have Elon Musk, so we have some really impressive people coming to the meeting,” Pattison said.
Because of the prominent guest list, security is a top priority.
Rhode Island State Police cruisers are already flooding downtown Providence. A spokeswoman from state police says the department is working with the Secret Service and the Canadian security detail.
Throughout the weekend, several streets will be closed.
Road closures and lane restrictions include:
-Wednesday noon through Sunday noon: West Exchange Street, between Sabin Street and the Service Road, will be closed to traffic during the conference at the Convention Center.
-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m.: Mathewson Street will be closed from Fountain Street to Weybosset Street during an event at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
-Friday 4 to 10 p.m.: Memorial Boulevard, from Exchange Street to Francis Street; Francis Street, from Memorial Boulevard to Hayes Street; Hayes Street to Smith Street; and Gaspee Street, from Francis Street to Smith Street, will have lane restrictions during an event at the State House, followed by a special presentation of WaterFire.