economic development

EDC, Slater end funding impasse

EDC Executive Director Keith W. Stokes said Friday that a memorandum of understanding had been finalized last week and the $1.2 million has now been transferred to Slater.
Posted 2/10/12

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Economic Development Corporation has reached an agreement with Slater Technology Fund that will free $9 million in federal funds for investment by the public venture capital firm in local companies, the EDC said Friday.

Protracted negotiations between the two sides over the details of reporting requirements had caused the first $1.2 million tranche of funds from the State Small Business Credit Initiative to sit unused since the fall. In November, that initial $1.2 million ticketed for Slater was transferred to the state’s Small Business Loan Fund to meet federal deadlines, according to SBLF meeting minutes.

EDC Executive Director Keith W. Stokes said Friday that a memorandum of understanding had been finalized last week and the $1.2 million has now been transferred to Slater.

Stokes declined to discuss the details of the negotiation or what had finally bridged the divide between the two sides, but said working out the details of the agreements for all three entities receiving money in the program had been unique, complex, and ultimately productive.

“We have three MOUs for this program and all three were fairly complicated and different,” Stokes said. “Last week Slater was wrapped up and the first tranche of funds has been distributed to all three.”

The $9 million award to Slater represents the bulk of a $13.1 million federal grant to Rhode Island that also includes money for startup accelerator Betaspring and the EDC-controlled Small Business Loan Fund. Ultimately, Betaspring is scheduled to get $2 million and the SBLF $2.1 million.

The balance of the money due to each organization will be distributed based on their performance investing the initial tranche, Stokes said.

The differences between the EDC and Slater over reporting requirements came as the EDC in the past year has made measuring the performance of its investments a priority.

Some see the push for additional disclosures from participating companies as making the public investments less attractive to businesses fearful of giving away strategic information.

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