North Smithfield #20: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


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North Smithfield

This year's Best Communities formula adjustments pulled several Blackstone Valley towns down in the rankings, and North Smithfield experienced one of the largest drops--from #12 in 2011 down to #20 this year. The challenge for Rhode Island's many mill towns is to ignite economic growth while keeping housing affordable and education improving. And that challenge continues to dog this northern mid-sized community that embraces a number of mill villages and was a central stop on the Great Road's stagecoach route.

The good news for North Smithfield's overall economic outlook was that housing prices rose for 2012, to an average of $250,950. Median income declined, however, dropping the town down to #10 in GoLocalProv's Affordability ranking (from #7 in 2011). The town was ranked #19 for Education--but with more emphasis in this year's formula on this measure, that did not bode well for North Smithfield. Another blow--crime, which pulled the town down 4 spots in the Safety ranking, to #9 in the state for 2012.

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North Smithfield by the numbers

Established: 1730
Population: 11,967
Median household income: $75,838
Median housing price: $250,950

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 20
Affordability ranking: 10
Education ranking: 19
Economic condition ranking: 11
Safety ranking: 9
Arts & Culture ranking: 29
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 31

History in a nutshell:

North Smithfield was incorporated as a town in March 1871 and was at first known as Slater, but only 16 days later the official name was changed to North Smithfield. Located in the northwest portion of the original Smithfield territory, North Smithfield was mostly a rural-agrarian society. Most of its inhabitants’ lives were centered on their farms. When industry began to rise in Rhode Island, North Smithfield was also affected and industrial growth in North Smithfield was centered on its water power. Villages developed around bodies of water which would naturally drive the mills. North Smithfield has changed greatly since its agriculturally focused origins. The land formally used for farming and the surrounding forests are being redesigned into residential, industrial, and recreational use forming a pleasant suburban identity.

Famous residents:

Peleg Arnold, delegate to the Continental Congress and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court
Jeff Jillson, National Hockey League player
David Rawlings, musician, singer/songwriter

Famous residents source: Wikipedia

For more Best Communities coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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