Updated March 28 at 12:29am

Report: Improving biz climate requires ‘sustained, cooperative partnership’


PROVIDENCE – Improving Rhode Island’s business climate will require a “sustained, cooperative partnership,” according to Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed. The Rhode Island Senate and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council released a report on Tuesday issuing recommendations on how to improve the state’s business rankings.

The report, “Moving the Needle,” was a joint effort by the Senate and RIPEC. It reviewed the individual factors that often cause Rhode Island to rank poorly compared to other states on business climate comparison rankings, and made recommendations to begin improving the state’s overall business climate.

“Successfully moving the needle and improving the business climate will require a sustained, cooperative partnership,” said Paiva Weed in prepared remarks. “Just as this report was a partnership between the Senate and RIPEC, our economic development efforts must be a collaborative effort that includes the voices of the Senate, the House, the Governor and his administration, the nonprofit sector, academia, and the business community.

“Working together, we will make Rhode Island more attractive to entrepreneurs, improve our image within our state and outside our borders, and help companies that are here to grow and create jobs,” added Paiva Weed, who said improving the state’s business rankings will be a major goal of the Senate this year.

In the fall of 2012, Paiva Weed directed the Senate Policy Office to examine the metrics looked at by those who produce business ranking surveys, including: CNBC, Forbes Magazine and the Tax Foundation. When the Senate discovered that RIPEC was working on a similar project, they decided to combine forces.

“Moving the Needle” established benchmarks and statistical baselines based on Rhode Island’s current conditions in the economy, workforce and education, transportation and infrastructure, cost of doing business and quality of life.

According to a release, these indicators use independent data that “has been deemed fundamental to an economically competitive state by national ranking bodies and site selection services.”

The report also calls for an annual review of Rhode Island’s standing on the particular benchmarks in order to determine progress.

“Not only does ‘Moving the Needle’ contribute to the discussion by providing baseline measures of economic performance, it also details specific action items for reform,” RIPEC Executive Director John C. Simmons said in prepared remarks. “Perhaps more importantly, it can be used as a tool to evaluate legislation, as one of the ways bills should be evaluated is by whether or not they have a positive effect on these types of indicators.”

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