Economic Expert says Rhode Islanders Need to Grab Control of Their Own Fate

Feb 27, 2013

It’s up to business leaders and other people in Rhode Island, not just lawmakers, to help save the state’s economy.

That’s what economic expert Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution told a lunch gathering of more than 200 people in Providence Tuesday.

Katz says business people and others need to set clear goals and then pursue them. “It’s not just waiting for government to do something. A lot of the actions that need to be taken in this state really could be taken by private, civic and university leaders. The economy is co-produced. It’s not produced by government. It’s produced by networks of leaders.”

He says building consensus and setting clear goals are key steps for improving Rhode Island’s economy.  Katz  says the Ocean State has strong assets to build upon.

He says Rhode Island’s persistently high unemployment shows the need for better coordination and a sharper focus. “Build a network of corporate, civic political, university, labor leaders who are on the same page of a unified vision of what are your assets and advantages in the economy, and then agree on the concrete, tangible steps to leverage them.”

Katz pointed to some familiar problems in Rhode Island’s economy, including a lack of adequate education for many workers. But he says the state also has strengths to build upon, including the land made available in Providence by the relocation of Interstate 195.

Katz is visiting Rhode Island at the invitation of state Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

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