On Politics
3:28 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Chafee reinforces his support for a long-term approach to economic development

With a series of organizations calling for more urgency in jolting Rhode Island’s under-performing economy, Governor Lincoln Chafee says the state needs to remain focused on a long-term approach. 

Speaking during a news conference highlighting $110 million in federally-backed improvements at T.F. Green Airport, Chafee said:

Well, it couldn’t be more appropriate to be here announcing infrastructure improvements, because I don’t really look at it in the short term; I look at it in the long-term. I think it’s smarter to do that, rather than to throw that hail Mary pass — that long bomb — and hope it’s a completion.

In listening to my tape, I initially thought Chafee said “loan bomb” — summoning thoughts of 38 Studios. The governor continued:

I’d rather build the blocking and the tackling, and the basics of investing in infrastructure and education and workforce development. That’s what we’re here announcing right now. This is positive. This is what we should be doing — whether it’s the dredging or the TIGER grants or the freight rail improvements. This is going to pay off in the long term.

Pressed on whether the state can take effective short-term economic steps, Chafee pointed to the good-paying construction jobs that he says will come next June with the airport improvements.

The governor spoke a day after the Rhode Island Foundation issued its report on possible steps to light a fire under the economy.

Some of the other groups weighing in recently include the RI Center for Freedom & Propsperity and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

Meanwhile, Ted Nesi reported last week on how Chafee has set guidelines for improving the economy. The details include retaining exisiting businesses and helping them grow, among other things.

Senator Jack Reed, who delivered the official word of funding for the airport improvements during the news conference this afternoon, says he thinks Rhode Island is headed in the right direction. He points to the airport plan as an example of local, state and federal officials working together.

Still, it’s worth remembering the airport is named in part for another former governor, Bruce Sundlun, whose bull-in-a-china-shop approach was the complete opposite of Chafee’s low-key governing style. One has to wonder how Sundlun would respond to Rhode Island’s persistent economic dysfunction.

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