Nothing that has been tried by the federal or state governments has produced any serious upward move by the Ocean State’s economy in the last five years. Not stimulus, not quantitative easing, not extended unemployment benefits.
In fact, with the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, and the number of jobs located in Rhode Island at their lowest level in well more than a decade, the state seems unlikely to recover anytime in the foreseeable future.
And so into the breech steps The Rhode Island Foundation. It seems an unlikely task for a community foundation to take on engineering the recovery of a state’s economy, but foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg is embracing the role.
In this week’s Newsmakers feature, and in previous public statements, Mr. Steinberg has made clear that he has grown impatient with the many studies and discussions that have pointed out directions the state could take to grow businesses, create jobs and help entrepreneurs thrive. What he wants – and what the state needs – is action, and right now.
His solution? Convene an invite-only meeting of a broad section of the private sector and ask for ideas that can be acted upon now, and not necessarily with any help from the government.
The event is called Make It Happen RI, and it takes place Sept. 7-8 (Editor’s note: PBN Editor Mark S. Murphy is facilitating one of the Make It Happen RI sessions). Ideas are being accepted from the public through Aug. 27 (send them to MakeItHappenRI@rifoundation.org).
For all our sakes, let’s hope that the foundation’s civic-mindedness produces something that we can write about in a year as having turned Rhode Island around. •