With the adoption last week of an economic-development action plan for the Ocean State, the R.I. Commerce Corporation has shown just how difficult turning around the state’s economy will be. Still, the effort underscores the notion that there is no one silver bullet to creating a healthy state economy, just a series of deliberate steps that can do little but improve that state’s business climate and support long-term economic growth.
First, the steps. There are six groups of them, and at the top of the list is “Building a Robust Business Ecosystem.” This is as it should be, because before any specific sector of the economy is favored by public policy, all businesses should be.
The report sets the following goals for this set of actions: improve the public-sector cost structure relative to private industry; accelerate regulatory reform; improve the state’s transportation and trade infrastructure; transform how the state interacts with private enterprises; upgrade the state’s energy policy and make it more sustainable; increase support of small business, particularly in terms of access to capital.
If the state’s policymakers and bureaucrats could accomplish these goals, nevermind the five other worthy sets of goals – “Harnessing the Power of Innovation,” “Fueling the Manufacturing Renaissance,” “Activating a 21st Century Workforce,” “Cultivating a Resilient Economy,” and “Promoting Greatness” – Rhode Island would be on a strong path to recovery.
But it is important that however the public sector goes about tackling this action plan, building a robust business ecosystem, one that all businesses can benefit from, should be the first bullet in the chamber. •