At a business-community outreach forum on June 5, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee made it clear that despite the dark cloud of 38 Studios LLC’s implosion hanging over Rhode Island, the state remains ever-ready to help small-business development.
The governor and the state’s economic leaders gathered at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Liston campus in the city to spread the word to small-business owners on how the administration can help them succeed, grow and create jobs. It’s all part of an ongoing program put forth by Chafee as part of his declaration of this being the “Year of the Cities and Towns.”
Chafee couldn’t help but to at least acknowledge 38 Studios and the associated changes under way at the R.I. Economic Development Corporation caused by its collapse. “As you know, EDC is going through some introspection as we adjust to some of the things that have happened over the last few weeks, but I know it’s going to be positive. Things are starting to go in the right direction,” he said.
The programs that are available are needed now more than ever. The Rhode Island unemployment rate was 11.2 percent in April 2012. That rate is 3.1 percentage points higher than the national rate for the month. Across the border in Massachusetts, the total unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in April.
“The [Dept. of Labor and Training] offers a variety of services to business free of charge,” said Susan Chomka, assistant director of workforce-development services. The department operates one-stop career centers throughout the state that work with the unemployed, regardless of skill level, to find work. Their workforce-development program also partners with employers to assist in recruitment and on-the-job training, where companies are reimbursed up to 50 percent for six months for training.
They work with students that have completed their technical training at institutions of higher education. They can also provide information on available tax credits. Short-term training is also available online.
According to Janet Raymond, a senior vice president at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, more than 85 percent of its membership is comprised of employers with a staff of 50 or less. “Our goal is to advocate, grow and protect that portion of the Rhode Island business community,” she said.