Despite national trends, Rhode Island’s economy may not be on the road to recovery. That’s according to the latest numbers from URI economics professor Leonard Lardaro.
Lardaro’s monthly numbers track the state’s economic progress based on a variety of factors, from benefit claims to employment. Rhode Island now stands with a neutral ranking of 50 on a 100 point scale, compared with 85 during the same time last year. Lardaro blames much of this on Rhode Island’s persistent unemployment which now hovers just below eight percent.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello emerged in March with a strong hold on what is commonly called the state's most powerful political office. Following the unveiling of a probe of former speaker Gordon Fox, Mattiello won a brief succession fight and pledged a stronger focus on jobs and the economy. Mattiello sat down last week to discuss his first few months as speaker and some of the top issues facing the state, including his choice for governor and Buddy Cianci's latest comeback attempt.
This month, the number of Rhode Islanders seeking help from a statewide network of food pantries has declined. It’s the first decline, says Rhode Island Community Food Bank spokeswoman Cindy Elder, since the beginning of the economic recession in 2008.
“It’s not quite a reason to rejoice because we’re still really at remarkable high levels of need for food assistance.”
Providence tech startup Swipely, which has grown significantly since it was launched in 2009, says a new infusion of $20 million in venture capital funding will enable it to continue expanding a small spark of Silicon Valley in Rhode Island.
"The intent is to use those funds to continue to aggressively growing the team in all our areas, including our engineering team, our marketing and sales team, and other departments within the company," Swipely founder Angus Davis said during a news conference Thursday morning.
Residents of West Warwick have passed a town budget that scales back services and raises taxes as part of an effort to avoid a financial crisis. The move is a early step for the town's path to fiscal stability.
The $86.3 million budget comes with plenty of concessions, including cuts in town programs, a 2.9 percent increase in property taxes, and reductions to public employee pensions. But town manager Frederick Presley said the concessions are necessary if West Warwick wants to avoid bankruptcy.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo says the state needs to streamline and modernize regulations to encourage entrepreneurs.
Speaking at Foolproof Brewing in Pawtucket, Raimondo cited the company as part of Rhode Island’s growing craft-brewing sector. But Raimondo says startups like Foolproof are succeeding in spite of excessive and antiquated regulations. She says entrepreneurs are sometimes left feeling like they’ve done something wrong after filling out government applications and permits.
A conservative-leaning think tank says Rhode Island spends more than 220 million dollars each year on what it calls non-essential state services. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity says cutting this spending would improve Rhode Island’s economy.
The House Labor Committee is slated to review a bill Tuesday that could increase the use of apprentices on state public works contracts. But critics say that mandating more work by apprentices could increase costs for municipal and state projects.
A union-backed bill sponsored by Providence Representative John Carnevale would require companies bidding on public projects worth more than $1 million to have an apprenticeship program. The legislation would apply only to contractors and subcontractors with five or more employees.