PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Monday agreed to team up with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to lure knowledge-based businesses from other states to Providence.
The new partnership, authorized in a unanimous vote by the R.I. EDC Board of Directors, will hire a “chief business attraction officer” charged with marketing Providence’s former Jewelry District and enticing new companies to move to Rhode Island.
The cost of the new effort will be split between the Chamber and EDC; each contributed $250,000 up front. A new board made up of representatives from influential local companies and institutions will be formed to oversee the marketing and recruitment efforts of the new business attraction office.
“Rhode Island has to get into the game and it is not optional,” Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White told the EDC Board about business-to-business marketing of the state. “This is the right time to bring this forward.”
In response to questions about whether the new office would be duplicating efforts already done by the EDC, White and Board member Stephen Lane, president of Ximedica, said an independent business attraction officer from the private sector would have capabilities a public agency doesn’t.
“If I get a call from an EDC, I will not return the call,” Lane said. “If I get a call from [another executive] I will. That is ... street credibility.”
Asked if $500,000 would be enough to make a difference, Lane likened the new office to a startup company that could be easily scaled up if successful.
White added that the kind of wining and dining the attraction officer would be doing was probably better left to the private sector.