Note: This article originally appeared on Bisnow on August 10, 2017
Rhode Island’s leaders know their state ranks as one of the least business-friendly in the country, but they have been making an increased effort lately to shed the image.
“With great credit to Gov. [Gina] Raimondo, state leaders and to the leaders of the business community, there has been a real ramp-up of effort,” Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor said. “When we arrived, there were very few tools in our toolbox.”
The smallest state in America has been at the bottom of CNBC’s Top State For Business rankings four times and has never risen above 45th since the rating began in 2007. This does not mean influential people in the Ocean State are resting on their laurels. Raimondo has been in office since 2015, and her administration is tackling many of the issues that have turned businesses and developers away.
“There are good things going on at a small scale,” Providence College School of Business Dean Sylvia Maxfield said. “But in Rhode Island, small can have a big impact.”
The state has two workforce investment tools: the Rhode Island Qualified Jobs Incentive Act and the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit. The jobs measure refunds a company the personal income taxes generated by the jobs it creates. The tax credit offers financial incentives over five years after a project’s certificate of occupancy is complete.
Providence has a history of political corruption and organized crime, inspiring the “Crimetown” podcast by the same producers behind HBO’s “The Jinx.” The benefits of the economic toolbox are already evident, which the new leadership hopes will make the city’s business climate its new legacy
Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate in the United State for a seven-month stretch in 2013 and 2014. It was 4.2% in June, below the national average and the lowest the state had seen in 16 years. The state has completed 17 business expansion or relocation deals in as many months, and 27 real estate deals have closed using the real estate tax credit, Pryor said.Categories: News