Raimondo Trying To Poach High-Tech Firms From Boston

Jan 11, 2016

Gov. Gina Raimondo has harped on creating new manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island since she began running for the governorship in 2014. But since moving into the 2nd floor Statehouse office on Smith Hill, the first-term Democrat changed her tune a bit, especially when it comes to recruiting high-tech companies to come to the Ocean State.

This morning, Raimondo’s face was peering out from the first business page of the Boston Globe. Her message was a distinctly different approach from her emphasis on manufacturing for the Ocean State business crowd.

Now, Raimondo is touting Rhode Island as a future high-tech hub. In an interview with Globe reporters Megan Woolhouse and Jon Chesto, Raimondo said RI was too yoked to manufacturing jobs for too many years.

``We were overly reliant on manufacturing jobs for too long,’’ said Raimondo. ``I’m trying to move Rhode Island to a place where our excellent hospitals and research institutions play a greater role in our economy, so we can have higher-skill, higher innovation jobs.’’

Trying to poach jobs from Boston’s flourishing economy is nothing new for RI pols; then-Providence Mayor Joe Paolino Jr., embarked on such an effort when he was mayor in the mid-1980s. And Raimondo will have lots of competition because many other states are trying to lure firms from Boston.

``There are 49 states that are trying to attract business from Massachusetts,’’ said David Begelfer, ceo at NAOIP,  a commercial real estate trade group. ``You can offer less expensive spaces and tax incentives, but there are some clear reasons why companies want to be where they are.’’

He cited the usual Boston advantages –skilled workers, well-known universities and a cluster of investors and innovators.

Raimondo likely doesn’t mention that her former venture capital firm, Point Judith, moved from Rhode Island to Boston several years before she became governor. Now, she is touting Providence’s low business rents and, compared to the Boston metro market, Rhode Island’s cheaper housing.