Future of the EDC Remains Unclear as Economic Bills Pass in the House

Jun 5, 2013

By overwhelming margins, the Rhode Island House of Representatives Tuesday passed a half-dozen bills to change the state’s approach to economic development.

One bill would try to create a more streamlined effort through a new Executive Office of Commerce. Another bill replaces the state Economic Development Corporation with a Commerce Corporation headed by a secretary of commerce. 

It is not yet clear precisely how the state will move forward.

House Finance chairman Helio Melo speaks in support of the House's economic development package.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

The House effort relies on putting one person in charge of economic development, replacing the state Economic Development Corporation, and shifting the work of some state agencies. House Speaker Gordon Fox said raising the focus is important, although he concedes more needs to be done.

"Economic development has to be central to every state discussion going forward because ultimately it comes down to job creation, and really making a community work is having working families that can pay for their mortgages, that care about their communities, ultimately make for a strong state, and this is just one part of it," said Fox.

It’s not yet clear how the House bills may be combined with separate economic development legislation backed by the state Senate. Governor Lincoln Chafee opposes eliminating the state Economic Development Corporation, but the General Assembly can easily override his veto.

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