ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

EDC director Stokes resigns

PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
R.I. ECONOMIC Development Corporation Executive Director Keith W. Stokes resigned Wednesday night, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Thursday morning.
Posted 5/17/12

(Updated, 5:25 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, has resigned amid fallout from the state’s $75 million loan guarantee to video game maker 38 Studios LLC.

On Thursday Stokes called the decision to step down a “mutual” agreement reached with Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee after the EDC Board held lengthy discussions Wednesday over how to respond to 38 Studios default on a $1.125 million fee payment.

Late Thursday afternoon, Chafee said 38 Studios had asked for instructions on wiring its missed payment to the state, said Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger.

“I brought the organization as far as I could and it is in a very good place,” Stokes said in a phone conversation Thursday morning, in which he cited a desire to reconnect with his family after 16 years on the EDC board. “Change sometimes comes from bringing in new perspectives.”

Stokes declined to say whether he was on the same page with Chafee over how to handle 38 Studios going forward. The company has asked for unspecified additional state assistance to keep it financially viable, Chafee said.

Stokes took over the EDC in March 2010 and with then Gov. Donald L. Carcieri was an architect of the 38 Studios deal, which was opposed by Chafee while he was running for governor.

Officials at both the governor’s office and EDC have said they do not know who will run the agency until a successor for Stokes is named.

“I thank Keith for his service to Rhode Island, not only at the helm of the EDC, but also as a former board member of that agency and as the long-time executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce,” Chafee said in a statement announcing the resignation. “Keith is committed to seeing Rhode Island succeed, and I am confident that he will continue to be very involved in the state he loves.”

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