Proposal looking for state overhaul of economic policy

PROVIDENCE – Calling for a system that acts as a “dynamic catalyst for new ideas,” a group of economic-development and public-policy officials want an aggressive overhaul of Rhode Island’s infrastructure that would eliminate the R.I. Economic Development Corporation. More

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Proposal looking for state overhaul of economic policy

Posted 8/20/12

PROVIDENCE – Calling for a system that acts as a “dynamic catalyst for new ideas,” a group of economic-development and public-policy officials want an aggressive overhaul of Rhode Island’s infrastructure that would eliminate the R.I. Economic Development Corporation.

The proposal – authored by Scott A. Gibbs, president at the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, Marcel A. Valois, vice president at the private nonprofit, and Gary Sasse, director of the Bryant University Institute for Public Leadership – looks to realign the state’s economic-development efforts, boosting coordination between public and private agencies. Some functions that currently fall under the quasi-governmental EDC’s auspices, such as strategic planning, would be moved to the governor’s office.

Among the most dramatic of the group’s proposals is creating an Economic Resource Management and Investment Board, an agency which would replace the EDC. The public-private board would be responsible for professional oversight and accountability of public investments in three areas: marketing and reputation management, direct investments in economic-development programs and research and development, and public-financing programs.

Ideally, the proposal said, the board would seek to partner with outside entities that have competencies in these areas instead of operating the functions themselves.

Among other ideas, the proposal also calls for an Economic Research Collaborative, which would be structured to provide for an independent, creditable, professional and nonpolitical resource for both the public and private sectors.

“The current economic-development system led by the EDC must be changed from a government-dominated, agency-centered, reactionary model to one that operates within a strategic network of committed, and innovative, collaborative and agile stakeholders from all sectors,” the group wrote.

The full proposal is available on a website created by the group at www.risurgence.com/idea/. •

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