John Bender / RIPR

Eight years since the height of the national foreclosure crisis, Providence faces a plague of vacant houses, blighting neighborhoods.  Now the capital city’s new mayor is ramping up efforts to combat the issue. One home on the city's West Side is a success story; it's part of the ambitious plan to create many more in the state capital.

On a cold, sunny morning in March a massive front end loader tears into a tan, two-story home, on Marshall St. on the West Side of Providence. A group of neighbors and passersby watch from across the street.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss her budget proposal, efforts to reinvent Medicaid, the pension dispute and much more.

You can hear more from Governor Raimondo in our Bonus Q+A segment.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The state’s unemployment rate ticked down in January, compared to the same month a year ago.  The rate is now 6.5 percent; the state’s lowest since the start of the recession.

That’s down more than two percentage points since January of last year (when it stood at 8.6).  It’s been seven years since the state’s unemployment rate has been this low, back in February of 2008.  Despite the good news, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average, of 5.7 percent.

Business leaders are expressing concerns about Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, effective in 2016.

Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce said she doesn't oppose the wage hike, but points out it could cause unintended consequences, especially for small businesses.

“Which would be potentially the shrinkage of hours for workers and also the potential that fewer jobs would be created,” said White.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is among 15 states whose shellfish industry is at long-term economic risk from the effects of ocean acidification. That’s according to new study funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Gina Raimondo era in Rhode Island government starts with her inauguration as governor next Tuesday.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is poised next month to win his first full two-year term to what is considered the most powerful post in state government. The Cranston Democrat won a battle for the speakership last March following the resignation of his predecessor, Gordon Fox. Mattiello sat down in his Statehouse office this week to discuss his priorities for 2015 and a host of other issues.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week, Dave and Mark talk with Cheryl Merchant, President and CEO of Hope Global in Cumberland. They discus Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s economic summit this week: the ideas and expectations from the business community.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

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.


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.