Janet Raymond was recently named Education Ambassador of the Year by the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. This was the first year RIHA presented the award, which recognizes someone in the business community who supports the education of youth, adults and incumbent workers. Raymond is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and holds an MBA from Bryant University. She is currently senior vice president of economic development and operations at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
PBN: According to the RIHA, you were chosen for this award based on your community involvement and your position at the Greater Providence Chamber. Can you tell us some more about your volunteer work?
RAYMOND: I chair the Providence/Cranston Workforce Investment Board, whose mission is to continuously improve the area’s capacity to connect people, employers, jobs, education and service. I serve on the Race to the Top Advisory Committee for the state of Rhode Island to provide the business perspective on shaping how the state utilizes this important federal funding.
PBN: How does education fit into your various economic-development roles?
RAYMOND: Work-force development is an integral component of economic development and Rhode Island’s ability to attract companies to our state and to grow our existing business base. Ensuring a strong educational system at all levels of the spectrum from K-12 and higher education is another critical component to a strong and growing economy. The message is clear that as a state, [we need] to align our educational and publicly funded workforce-development systems with business and industry demand, which is critical to our state’s economic success.
PBN: How has the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce changed since you joined its staff in 1993?
RAYMOND: The role of the Chamber is now and has been, to be an advocate for Rhode Island businesses. Some of the very issues we confronted in 1993 are still very much in play today, including growing jobs, expanding the economy and improving the airport. … We are leading various initiatives in partnership with the private and public sectors to capitalize on our assets and grow our job base, especially as it relates to the knowledge economy. •