More changes appear to be coming for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, whether Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee wants them or not. Competing House and Senate proposals suggest that whatever ultimately emerges from the General Assembly, the independent governor’s reshuffling of the agency over the past year will not be the final word.
What is less clear is exactly how economic development is being conducted now and would change if lawmakers get their way.
House leaders want to dismantle the EDC, replacing it with a more-limited entity controlled by a new state commerce secretary. Senate leaders want improved planning and coordination between agencies but have not proposed a new secretariat.
But amid all the talk of structural change has been limited discussion of the focus and vision state leaders have for economic development, which are the things that should be driving the changes in the first place. Until there is a single, articulated vision for what government’s role should be in promoting economic development, it will continue to be a hodgepodge of programs and competing agendas, regardless of the structure used to control it. •