Another setback at EDC; Parsons asks out due to "serious health issue"

Feb 14, 2013

In the latest setback for the state Economic Development Corporation, Governor Lincoln Chafee's choice to lead the agency, William J. Parsons, has asked that his nomination we withdrawn due to a " recent serious health issue." Chafee has accepted the request by Parson, whose tenure with the EDC goes almost to the agency's inception.

Via news release:

In a letter to Governor Chafee, Parsons cited a recent serious health issue, explaining that he did not feel he could accept the high-stress, high-demand post of Executive Director. He will continue to serve at the agency in his current role of Managing Director of Community and Business Development.

“I understand Bill’s request, and I can certainly appreciate his reevaluation in light of facing a potentially serious health issue,” Governor Chafee said. “Bill has given many years to the EDC and I want to genuinely thank him for his ongoing service to our state.”

“After reflecting on the duties and responsibilities of the Executive Director and in consultation with my family, I have determined that my recent health concerns will not allow me to adequately serve in this demanding role,” Parsons wrote. “In the interest of stability and continuity for the RIEDC, I feel it is important for the next Executive Director to be in a position to make an extended commitment to the agency.  Due to my recent health issues, I do not believe that I can make such a commitment to serving as Executive Director at this time.”

Parsons had been selected for a confirmation hearing by the Senate in the weeks ahead.

Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger says the governor will evaluate the situation and make recommendations. The parameters of a search for a new head for the EDC are not yet clear, she says.

Chafee had selected Parsons following the departure of former agency head Keith Stokes, who had helped champion the state's deal with Curt Schillling's video game company, 38 Studios. The company went bankrupt last year after receiving a $75 million dollar state loan guarantee.

Stokes took over the EDC after an Arizona woman chosen during a lengthy search by the Carcieri administration, Ioanna Morfessis, backed out after accepting the job. She cited health issues involving a family member.

The EDC has had a virtual revolving door of directors over the years as Rhode Island has struggled to reinvent its post-manufacturing economy.