economy

Ian Donnis / RIPR

About 80 business people and other community leaders gathered Tuesday to find ways to bolster the state economy.  Governor-elect Gina Raimondo used the event to introduce her point man on economic development.

RIPR FILE

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is staging an economic policy summit with 80 so-called “thought leaders” Tuesday. The event is supposed to develop ideas for improving the state’s economy.

Raimondo’s transition office declined to release an advance list of the business people and other leaders invited to the event. They’ll take part in a three-hour discussion at URI’s Providence campus.  The governor-elect’s transition initially planned to close most of the meeting to the media. But the full session will now be open to reporters.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The deadline to renew health insurance plans through Health Source RI is coming up on December 23rd.  The state’s health insurance exchange is holding an enrollment fair today in Warwick to help customers in person. We checked in with a few to find out how it’s going.

Warwick resident Kim Darcy was waiting her turn to speak with a health insurance counselor. Darcy plans to re-enroll. And she says she’s thankful there’s a plan she can afford after going without for many years.

The pre-holiday slowdown is descending on the land, but there's still plenty of interesting stuff going on, naturally. So thanks for stopping by and feel free to send me a note at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate edged down slightly in October to 7.4 percent.  It’s a number that has consistently dropped over the last 15 months.

October’s jobless rate is the lowest it’s been since April of 2008. But still the state lost 2600 jobs. The Department of Labor and Training finds Rhode Island’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate higher than the national rate of 5-point-8 percent but lower than the 9.4 percent jobless rate a year ago.

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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

RIPR FILE

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.”

Rhode Island will receive nearly $2 million in relief funds to help fishermen hit by sharp cuts in catch limits.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

West Warwick Residents Approve Critical Budget

May 23, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell unveiled Wednesday his plan for improving Rhode Island’s economy, as part of the first in what he said will be a series of forthcoming policy initiatives.

In broad strokes, Pell said if elected governor he would focus on improving the state's public schools, strengthening infrastructure, and leveraging Rhode Island's assets.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

RIPR FILE

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.

RIPR FILE

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.

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