economic development

RIPEC to examine EDC, as Chafee names 3 to board

PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
THE R.I. PUBLIC Expenditure Council will examine the current structure and operation of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation in light of the recent 38 Studios LLC loan guarantee debacle, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Thursday.
Posted 5/31/12

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council will examine the current structure and operation of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation in light of the recent 38 Studios LLC loan guarantee debacle, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Thursday.

The examination, which will take place over the next 90 days, will focus on the essential functions, structure and resources of the EDC.

RIPEC intends to outline the quasi-state organization as it exists today to use as a baseline for improvements, said RIPEC Executive Director John C. Simmons.

When asked by “didn’t we just do this?” by reporters referring to RIPEC’s 2009 EDC report, Chafee responding “We’re going to keep doing it until we get it right.”

RIPEC expects to talk to stakeholders and examine similar organizations in other states.

Part of the RIPEC investigation, according to Simmons, is whether the body that votes to approve a loan should be the one that oversees the company, referring to the recent problems with 38 Studios.

Chafee called the deal with former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schillings video game company a “colossally bad decision” and said that the administration wants to “put it behind us and move Rhode Island forward.”

At the same time, Chafee put forth three nominees for the EDC board - Marcia Blount, president and chief financial office of Warren-based Blount Boats Inc., Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, chairman of the board of Women and Infants Hospital’s Health Care Alliance and former medical director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, and Alison Vareika, co-founder and co-owner of William Vareika Fine Arts Ltd. and mother of Chafee’s deputy communications director, Christian Vareika.

The Governor said that he had “encouraged” all of the EDC board member who voted for the 38 Studios deal to step down, adding that he felt it was “time for a change in the board.”

Chafee said he was “getting close” to an announcement for the quasi-state organization’s executive director but that Bill Parsons, who has been filling in since Keith W. Stokes stepped down May 17 would continue on until a decision was made.

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