Grebien: Hasbro, state officials all willing to meet

Grebien: Hasbro, state officials all willing to meet

PAWTUCKET – The next step in the city’s bid to retain global toy maker Hasbro, after Mayor Donald Grebien’s impromptu press conference last Wednesday calling for a coordinated effort to retain the business in its home city, is for state and local officials to meet with the company.

Members of Grebien’s team said they were encouraged when Hasbro representatives reached out before the press conference.

“Mayor Grebien’s administration has made contact with both Hasbro and state officials who have all shown willingness to meet,” said Grebien spokesman Wilder Arboleda on Monday. The next step is to find a meeting time and date that works for everyone as the city looks to keep Hasbro here in Pawtucket.”

The Breeze confirmed that the toymaker had some interest in the area around a previously proposed new baseball stadium at the Apex site on the riverfront, but that apparently dissipated with news over the summer that the PawSox will leave in two years.

The current Hasbro complex on Newport Avenue is considered outdated for the company’s needs, but Hasbro executives haven’t ruled out renovating it and staying there.

“We are in the process of evaluating several options for contemporizing our corporate headquarters, including finding a new corporate campus in the vicinity of our current headquarters,” said the company in a statement.

Hasbro officials are said to be looking for a space that will have entertainment amenities around it where their employees could go after work.

Grebien said he and city officials will promote the area around a coming new train station and mostly completed brewing and entertainment complex at 461 Main St., among other parcels.

The mayor said Pawtucket “urgently needs” a “dedicated focus” by Gov. Gina Raimondo and other leaders to help prevent another economic loss to Pawtucket. The city can only go so far in keeping the company through local tax incentives, he said, and needs a “robust package” from the state to make it happen.

“Together I think we can retain the city’s greatest asset,” he said.

Grebien said the value of the company to the city can’t easily be measured, but said it’s immense in terms of jobs and its impact on the local economy.

On why he called the press conference, Grebien said it was important not to repeat the mistakes of the PawSox situation, where it seemed many people in government were on different pages instead of pulling in one direction. He said it’s more important than ever to “protect Hasbro’s long-term investment in Pawtucket,” and to do so, everyone should be at the same table and having the same conversation.

Several times last Wednesday, Grebien said Rhode Island can’t just put everything in Providence, an apparent reference to rumors that the company might be looking at the capital city for an expansion.

“What’s good for one community has to be good for another,” he said.

Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello both indicated that they would be involved with ongoing discussions about keeping Hasbro in Rhode Island, but aren’t saying it has to be in Pawtucket. The governor told The Providence Journal that Grebien needs to get a strategy together on keeping Hasbro and she’s here to help.

One rumored landing place for the company is Canton, Mass.

Hasbro officials have kept both their company needs and future plans “close to the vest,” said Grebien, even as they’ve toured various city properties. He said officials still aren’t exactly sure what Hasbro is looking for in terms of a future home.

Asked what prompted a press conference with other city officials and members of Pawtucket’s General Assembly delegation, Grebien said there was some alarm at Hasbro’s announcement of downsizing, and it became clear that the company was looking at locations outside of Pawtucket. He said his press conference was meant as a “call to action.” The city can’t afford another loss after the closing of Memorial Hospital and announced departure of the PawSox, he said.

Hasbro has about 1,000 employees locally, most of those at the global Pawtucket headquarters and the rest at the U.S. Headquarters in Providence. The toymaker employs about 5,000 around the world.

Comments

Okay so it's obvious Hasbro wants in at the former Reebok HQ in Canton. It's a beautiful building near the Blue Hills Reservation. That said, having worked on the same street, there are ZERO entertainment options around there, nothing at all and there neve will be because all of the land is concersation land. However, the campus there is amazing and it'll be tough comp. for Pawtucket. I think PVD should throw their hat in the race because most importantly, we need Hasbro to stay in RI.