Business news

Providence, RI – Rhode Island's unemployment rate edged down slightly in April. As WRNI's Flo Jonic reports it's currently the lowest it's been in almost two years.

Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 10.9% - down one tenth of a percentage point from March. It's the first time in 21 months the rate has been below 11%. But it is still two percent higher than the national jobless rate.

Providence, RI – Providence's budget woes, and critics fire back against Governor Chafee's budget. That's part of the discussion this week on Political Roundtable. Here's our host, WRNI political reporter Ian Donnis.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.

I-95 as pictured in Providence. Photo by James Wyman

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee used the backdrop of the Pawtucket River Bridge on Interstate 95 Tuesday to make the case for the transit funding plan in his budget.

Chafee wants to steer $12 million from the state general fund for each of the next five years to fund transit improvements. He says creating this regular funding source would allow the state to avoid borrowing and paying interest for costly improvements.

An entrance to Rhode Island College is pictured above. Photo by Alex Nunes.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee has proposed a $10 dollar increase in funding for the state's higher education system. But it won't be enough to prevent tuition increases at two of the three state schools.

Tuition will remain the same next year at the Community College of Rhode Island. But students at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College will have to pay more. Ray DiPasquale, the president of CCRI and the state Commissioner of Higher Education, says it's unclear how much more.

Governor Lincoln Chafee is pictured during his gubernatorial campaign. Photo by Louis Oppenheimer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee made his first budget address Tuesday night. For fiscal year 2012, the governor proposed financial aid to cities and towns, supporting the school funding formula, and a boost in higher education.

But Chafee also called for cuts, specifically $60 million to Health and Human Services, which will make up some 40 percent of the next state budget.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – More women are entering homeless shelters due to unemployment and foreclosures in Rhode Island.

Crossroads Rhode Island, provider of services to the homeless, has released a report that found women are the fastest growing group of people facing homelessness.

Crossroads President Anne Nolan says that the issue of women and homelessness is a crisis that often gets overlooked.

Nolan notes that in Providence, a 41-bed women's shelter is consistently overflowing.

Alex Nunes / RIPR

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence financial reckoning becomes clear later this week. City Hall sources say Mayor Angel Taveras is expected to detail the dire condition of city government finances by Thursday.

The Taveras administration isn't saying anything on the record at this point; mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Withers is adamant about not confirming any projected deficit numbers.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A consultant says Rhode Island's tourism industry is losing market share to states that do a better job promoting themselves.

Mitch Nichols says the Ocean State has great attractions, but is getting out-marketed by Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. The Arizona-based consultant was hired by the state Economic Development Corporation.

Artist Jill Davis is pictured at her Pawtucket studio. Photo by Catherine Welch.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Advocates say the arts can help put a city on the map, but can they also help put a city budget in the black? Pawtucket officials are hoping the answer to that question is yes.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island home sales dipped slightly in January as did the median price. The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales fell from 395 a year ago to 392 this year.

The median price fell to $198,000 from $200,000 the year prior.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – More than 60 people attended a House Labor Committee meeting yesterday to debate illegal immigration. The focal point was a bill to restore former governor Don Carcieri's executive order on immigration.

Tea Party and Rhode Island Statewide Coalition members were among those backing stronger efforts to curb illegal immigration.

Photo by Ross Elliott via Flickr Creative Commons.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee says his administration is keeping a watchful eye on potential casino developments in Massachusetts but stopping short of endorsing a plan to allow table games at Twin River in Lincoln.

Chafee spokesman Mike Trainor says the concern is that a Bay State casino could take revenue away from Rhode Island.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Sam's Club store in Warwick is closing for a major redesign. As a consequence, the store's 113 employees will be laid off.

A spokesman for the Walmart corporation says they'll be given 60 days of pay plus severance and will be considered for openings in other stores.

The company has not said how long the remodel will take. But in the meantime, Sam's Club members can use the store in Seekonk, Massachusetts.

Governor Lincoln Chafee, center, is pictured with EDC head Keith Stokes, left. Photo by Megan Hall.

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee ushered in a new philosophy for bringing jobs to the Ocean State as he chaired his first meeting of the state's Economic Development Corporation yesterday.

Chafee says like any business or sports team that's in trouble, Rhode Island needs to focus on the basics and away from bigger projects like the EDC's $75 million loan to video game developer 38 Studios.

"The football analogy would be, you block and tackle before you do the Hail Mary and the Statue of Liberty play," he says.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The cost of home heating oil has reached a two year high in Rhode Island. According to the state Office of Energy Resources, the average price is now $3.32 a gallon.

The high price of home heating oil in Rhode Island is leading people to do desperate things, according to Maggie Rogers of the George Wiley Center.