Compiling the list of those hurt by the implosion of 38 Studios LLC is easy.
Of course, the taxpayers of Rhode Island and the employees of the bankrupt video game developer immediately come to mind, the first group because of the money they are going to have to pay to satisfy the company’s bondholders, the latter for the salaries they no longer collect for their hard work.
Perhaps the biggest indirect beneficiaries of the nearly 300 workers who once filled the One Empire Plaza headquarters of the company were the Empire neighborhood’s restaurants, which have seen a drop-off in their lunch and breakfast business that is significant enough for at least one eatery to have laid off staff. And while others put on a brave face, it seems likely that more contraction will follow.
Therefore, it is important that the city and state continue their economic-development efforts with an eye toward building a more vibrant business scene downtown.
Providence is doing its part, first through its Innovation Investment Program, which recently granted 23 companies $50,000 each (through a federal grant) to locate in the city for at least one year and create jobs locally.
In addition, the city has started overhauling its permitting process to make getting a business going here quick and easy instead of slow and off-putting.
But the state needs to make sure that the 38 Studios mess doesn’t make it pull back from its own economic-development programs. That would be the wrong response to what has turned out to be a bad bet on one company. •
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