Updated July 28 at 9:39pm

Business leaders expect R.I. economic recovery will lag U.S.

About 90 percent of Rhode Island business leaders think the U.S. economy will improve in the next 12 months, based on a survey taken by about 350 attendees at the Santander Bank and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Breakfast at the Omni Hotel on Thursday.

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Business leaders expect R.I. economic recovery will lag U.S.

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PROVIDENCE – About 90 percent of Rhode Island business leaders think the U.S. economy will improve in the next 12 months, based on an interactive survey taken by about 350 attendees at the Santander Bank and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Breakfast at the Omni Hotel on Thursday.

The survey taking the pulse of the regional business community revealed that many business owners expect the Rhode Island economic recovery to be more sluggish than the national trend, with about half stating they think the state economy will be about the same a year from now and about one-quarter anticipating the Ocean State’s economic climate will improve in the next year.

“The past year has been challenging,” said Santander U.S. President and CEO Roman Blanco. “The tide appears to be turning and as the national economy improves, the Rhode Island economy will improve. The indicators are showing more favorable trends.”

Blanco emphasized Santander’s support for higher education and said Rhode Island’s high-quality and vibrant cluster of colleges and universities make it a key location for the global bank.

“Let’s build on the Ocean State’s considerable assets, including a network of educational institutions that is to be envied,” said Blanco. “They bring enthusiasm and innovation to your doorstep.”

Santander Bank has more than 800 employees in Rhode Island, about 10 percent of the bank’s total U.S. workforce, he said.

“We expect to continue to grow as the economy improves,” said Blanco.

Overall, speakers and business leaders at the event anticipate 2014 to unfold with slow upward movement in the Rhode Island economy, lagging the national recovery.

“In the last year or so, people are putting money back on credit cards and taking out car loans and mortgages,” said Santander U.S. Senior Vice President and Director of Fixed Income Steve Andrews. “People are getting a little more tolerant of taking risks.”

Omni Hotel, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Santander, Roman Blanco, Economic Outlook Breakfast, Steve Andrews,

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