Working to offer businesses better incentives to come to Rhode Island doesn’t matter much if they don’t know what awaits them, according to officials and industry leaders whose goal is to foster the state’s entrepreneurial success.
“We have to sell ourselves,” said General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. “We have the assets. We have the intellectual capital. We have everything we need. We have to pitch Rhode Island.”
Raimondo was a panelist, along with Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White and The Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg, at the annual economic-outlook breakfast sponsored by Sullivan & Co., a Providence accounting and business advisory firm, and held July 18 in East Providence.
Working on the belief that attracting small startups to open shop in Rhode Island is the best way to turn the state’s dismal financial and employment outlook around, the panelists focused on what the state, as well as private-sector employers and nonprofits, should be doing to get them here.
A large part of that, they said, is to get working together.
“The trick, if we’re going to get out of this, is to come together and move forward,” Raimondo said. “I don’t believe in the ‘us versus them’ view of the world.”
What Raimondo was talking about is getting out of the state’s economic slump, which has plagued it since before the start of the recession and persists with an unemployment rate hovering around 11 percent – the second worst in the country – and with national rankings that are hindering its business growth.
CNBC’s “America’s Top State for Business Report,” released earlier this month, ranked Rhode Island dead last for the second consecutive year, citing poor transportation and business friendliness among its problems.
“This is something we can’t turn a blind eye to,” White said. “Fifty out of fifty is not good. That’s not something we should stand still around.”