Valois is the former vice president of the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, and the co-author of "Reboot the RIEDC," the EDC report that suggested breaking the agency down into parts. According to the governor's office, Valois has decades of management experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
"Marcel Valois is a proven business leader," Chafee said. "He understands economic development, he understands Rhode Island, and he shares my commitment to taking advantage of Rhode Island's assets to strengthen our economy. I look forward to working with Marcel to build a sustainable Rhode Island economy that benefits all the people of our state."
In addition to his time with the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, Valois previously served, under Gov. Lincoln Almond, as executive director of the RIEDC. In that role, Valois spearheaded the redevelopment of a master plan for the 3,000-acre former Quonset/Davisville Navy Base and led the marketing efforts for the passage of a $72 million bond issue for investment in the facility. He is also credited with leading the state's negotiating team for the development of Providence Place and recruiting Fidelity Investments to Rhode Island.
Valois also has served as chief operating officer and area vice president of Penske Automotive Group, executive vice president of the Blackstone Valley Development Foundation Inc. and director of planning and development, and city planner and planning analyst for the city of Woonsocket.
Valois holds a B.A. in liberal arts and an M.A. in urban and economic geography from the University of Rhode Island.]]>
Contained in the database will be information on what manufacturing companies are producing, which companies have expertise in a certain area and how local companies can become suppliers or buyers for other Rhode Island companies.
Raymond W. Fogarty, executive director of the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, said the Rhode Island Manufacturing 1000 survey will serve as a first-of-its-kind, one-stop access point to help companies gather information and connect across a sector business leaders say is critical for economic vitality in the state.
"We're going to break it down. When people ask, 'Can you show me just the manufacturing in Providence?' the answer is yes. If someone wants to see just a sector of marine services, we can do that," Fogarty told Providence Business News. "Before this, the answer was, 'Absolutely not.'"
According to Fogarty, the first phase of the MFG 1000 survey involved gathering information in March from 1,200 of the state's manufacturers with 20 or more employees. In June 2014 the project is scheduled expand to include information from hundreds more manufacturers with less than 20 employees.
"We're going to be much better at marketing what the manufacturers are and who they are," said Fogarty. "It's going to be a database that's going to open a lot of eyes to manufacturing."
The project is funded through a $60,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation and is a joint effort between the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, Bryant's Chafee Center for International Business, the R.I. Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Services.
Survey results showed that 52 percent of participating companies had made investments of less than $250,000 in the past year, while 13 percent had made an investment that eclipsed $1 million. Funding appears to be a critical need, as 30 percent of respondents said they were in need of additional financial resources to fund capital improvements, research and development, inventory and expansion costs.
Personnel data contained in the survey is encouraging, according to A. Ray Thomas, associate director of the Chafee Center for International Business.
The survey found that 56 percent of respondents had expanded their operations in the past three years, and that 80 percent of employees plan to add employees in the next three years. A vast majority of businesses the jobs will be entry level production and machine operation, according to the survey.
"We're not that far off in terms of numbers when it comes to creating and multiplying jobs," Thomas told PBN, adding that the data projects the state's work force will balloon by thousands, a prospect that would provide a needed boost to a state unemployment rate that remains at 8.8 percent.
According to the report, 87 percent of companies surveyed reported less than $25 million in annual revenue, a percentage that is expected to increase once smaller companies are included in the database.
"That gets to the point that this is such a small business state," said Thomas. "When you are looking at the data you see these small companies don't have a lobbying effort. They don't have this big solid group that's going to sway legislation and so forth. Because we are so small we really need to make sure that our laws and regulations and policies are for small business growth."
Thomas suggested a three-fold approach to building on information in the report: improve the business climate for existing business; attract entrepreneurs and encourage companies to bring their operations to Rhode Island or expand in Rhode Island.
The release of the information coincided with Bryant's World Trade Day, the largest global trade event of its kind in the region that focuses on learning how to access international market.
"The theme of the World Trade Day is Made in the USA," said Fogarty. "Globalization starts right here."]]>
According to reports compiled by Joseph A. Smith Jr., monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, 2,064 Ocean State homeowners have received relief in the form of first and second lien modification forgiveness, short sales, principal refinancing and other forgiveness programs, with an aggregate amount of benefit of $150 million, or a $72,708 average benefit per homeowner.
The reports also show that Rhode Island has approximately 1,000 additional homeowners who are currently in the approval and/or trial phase of first lien modification relief programs. The data used in the report was provided by the five banks that are parties to the settlement.
"While this report shows real relief for many homeowners in Rhode Island and recent data show some recovery, the housing market continues to be very fragile, heavily reliant on the state's overall economy and employment levels," Kilmartin said in prepared remarks, adding that the issue is still a work in progress.
"Based on calls from frustrated homeowners, I know there are areas in which some of the banks still have work to do to be in compliance with the servicing standards outlined in the settlement. My office continues to report these issues to the monitor, and I will continue to hold the banks accountable to ensure they are in full compliance with the terms of the settlement," Kilmartin said.
Kilmartin has additionally proposed legislation to bring more relief to Rhode Island homeowners through a foreclosure conciliation program and statutory changes to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. in Rhode Island.
According to the reports, nationally, 621,712 borrowers benefited from some type of consumer relief totaling $50.63 billion, which, on average, represents about $81,437 per borrower. This figure includes both completed consumer relief and active first lien trial modifications.
Nearly $30 billion of the overall completed consumer relief has come in the form of principal forgiveness and refinancing. Because of the settlement, the principal reduction helps borrowers stay in their homes, lowering monthly payments on over 310,000 loans and actually reducing struggling homeowners' loan balances by more than $83,000 on average.
Come June, the monitor plans to submit the first required reports to the court concerning his review of the banks' compliance with the settlement's servicing standards. The monitor is also developing one or more discretionary metrics, or tests, to better measure the banks' performance on certain servicing standards, which are expected to be announced and implemented this summer.]]>
The award recognizes Building Futures for its work in low-income housing construction and its overall workforce development efforts in construction.
Building Futures is currently partnered with the Olneyville Housing Corp. to create brand new homes using energy-efficient methods and materials, according to a board release.
Following what it calls a "service learning model," graduates of the Building Futures pre-apprenticeship program rotate through a 10-week on-the-job training opportunity in which labor costs are subsidized by the Governor's Workforce Board.
The group is currently completing the first of four houses in Olneyville. When this first house is completed, Building Futures has plans to build three more in the area, creating "brand new homes for those in need," according to a release.
Building Futures has served as a Governor's Workforce Board industry partnership since 2007 and has helped to grow the number of young, skilled workers in Rhode Island construction as many skilled workers age out of the industry.]]>
The award is the DoD's highest recognition for employers that give exceptional support to employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.
A review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selected 30 finalists from a pool of 2,899 nominations submitted by National Guard and Reserve Service members earlier this year.
According to the DoD release, finalists distinguished themselves by implementing both formal policies and informal initiatives that go "above and beyond" in assisting and encouraging National Guard and Reserve service.
The Cranston Public Schools were nominated by a member of the Army Reserve and reported supporting their nominator by keeping in contact with his family during mobilization through personal visits and phone calls, as well as offering support in "times of need."
The school system also allowed the nominator extra time to submit his lesson plans when he had to attend weekend Reserve drills.
Cranston Public Schools promote respect for the military in many of their school-wide activities, according to the DoD, including encouraging students to prepare care packages for deployed Guardsmen and Reservists.
"The 2013 Freedom Award finalists demonstrate the type of outstanding support our National Guard and Reserve Service members count on when answering the nation's call to serve," Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve National Chair James G. Rebholz said in a statement.
"These employers recognize the valuable role they play in the lives of our Citizen Warriors; and in supporting these men and women, the finalists have made a critical contribution to our national security," said Rebolz, adding: "On behalf of ESGR and the DoD, I want to thank each of the 2013 finalists for their extraordinary support."
A national selection board comprised of senior DoD officials, business leaders and prior awardees will select the 15 2013 Freedom Award recipients early this summer.
Winners will be honored at the 18th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington on Sept. 26.]]>
The funding round, which also included existing investors First Round Capital, Greylock Partners and Index Ventures, will help Swipely expand its network of merchants, accelerate nationwide growth and hire new staff in its Providence office.
According to a Swipely release, the $12 million is the largest-ever Series B round of financing for a software company in Rhode Island. Since its inception, Swipely's venture financing totals $20.5 million.
The company said it plans to use the record financing round to "grow the team across all functional areas," including engineering, sales and marketing, finance and administration. In a release, the company describes itself as a "bellwether among a growing ecosystem of high-tech companies leading a renaissance in the Ocean State's long-challenged economy."
The company currently has about 40 employees, 35 of which work in its Providence office. Angus Davis, founder and CEO, told Providence Business News that Swipely expects to bring its total staff up to 80 by the end of the year, saying his company is "ramping up pretty aggressively."
While there will be job growth across all of its staff teams, Davis said that the sales and "customer success" teams will see the most growth. Davis added that if his company hits its growth targets, which he called "ambitious but achievable," that he will have 120 employees by the end of 2014.
"Our biggest challenge is finding really talented people so we can grow at that pace without compromising our high standards," said Davis.
Swipely currently manages more than $700 million in annual sales for merchants and more than 2 million customer relationships, up nearly three-fold since December, Davis told Providence Business News.
"The next big milestone will be $1 billion, and we certainly expect to achieve that this year," said Davis, adding that the goal will be to ultimately grow much larger than that and to go from serving hundreds of businesses nationwide to thousands.
The software company boasts that businesses that upgrade to Swipely "unlock shopping data" to help learn how new versus repeat customers contribute to sales, how to build a customer database with profiles for every card-paying customer, how to measure the way online marketing campaigns impact offline sales and how to launch trackable loyalty programs that bring customers back to their business.
"We are excited to be part of a company that finally brings the power of data to the offline world, ultimately translating into happy customers and more revenue," Sean Flynn, partner at Shasta Ventures, said in prepared remarks. "It's a major innovation in payments and marketing for small business, and we hope it will transform the way merchants understand and engage with their customers."]]>
"Rhode Island is starved for leadership and desperate for a governor who won't just talk about economic development, but who actually has the skills to do something about it," said Block in the release announcing his candidacy.
The Moderate Party candidate went on to say that the state needed politicians who are motivated "not by the status quo, but by the desire to fix what is so broken in our state. The serious problems with our economy and educational system will only be solved with hard work, attention to detail and a dedication to serving the best interests of the majority of Rhode Island's residents."
A formal kick-off will be planned in the near future, according to the release. At the event, Block intends to introduce his finance team and explain his campaign platform.
"This election must be about who has the skills and vision to lead Rhode Island out of the financial mess we are in," said Block in a statement. "It can't come down to a choice between status quo candidates who raise staggering amounts of money from special interests outside of the state, or candidates who are completely bereft of ideas. I intend to run a strong campaign with the vision and ideas necessary to convince voters that I am the best possible choice for fixing our state."]]>
Merlo will be honored at a June 18 reception at the Providence Public Library. The recognition and fundraising event in mid-June will take place as part of the 75th anniversary year of March of Dimes and the 50th anniversary year of CVS.
"It's an honor to be recognized, and I commend the March of Dimes for the work they are doing to help expectant moms and ensure they have the healthiest babies," said Merlo in prepared remarks. "Our purpose of helping people on their path to better health aligns with the March of Dimes' mission, and we couldn't be more proud of our long-standing partnership to improve health outcomes for children and families in our home state."
The celebration honoring Merlo will be chaired by Deborah Thomas, the chief financial officer of Hasbro Inc. and 2010 recipient of the March of Dimes Citizen of the Year award.
The event will feature guest speakers, including: Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the national March of Dimes Foundation and James Roosevelt Jr. CEO of Tufts Health Plan. Roosevelt is the grandson of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes to bring an end to polio 75 years ago.
"The support that CVS Caremark has provided to the March of Dimes for over a dozen years has been vital in helping the organization fulfill its mission of working together for stronger, healthier babies," Thomas said in a statement. "Through Larry's leadership and the company's commitment to being an incredible community partner, the nation's tiniest human beings are being given a boost for a healthy start in life."
The March of Dimes Citizen of the Year event begins at 6 p.m. and individual tickets are $125. Corporate and host tables are available. Contact (401) 454-1911 or visit www.marchofdimes.com/rhodeislandm for more information.]]>
Carnival Corp. plunged 7 percent after the largest cruise operator lowered its profit projection for the second half of 2013. Urban Outfitters Inc. lost 2.8 percent as the retailer reported quarterly sales that missed analysts' estimates. Home Depot Inc. rose 3.6 percent after raising its earnings forecast as the housing rebound boosts renovation spending.
S&P 500 futures expiring next month dropped less than 0.1 percent to 1,664.5 at 8:24 a.m. in New York. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,329 today.
"I view a move by the Fed toward normalizing monetary policy as ultimately a good thing," Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab Corp., said on Bloomberg Television. Her firm has $2 trillion in client assets. "It will be a taper; they're not going to grind this to a halt all of a sudden. If the reason is that economic growth has picked up with inflation expectations still fairly benign, then that's the best reason for the Fed to do it."
Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard speaks on central-bank policy at the Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability at 5:30 p.m. in Frankfurt. Bullard said on April 17 that inflation had fallen too far below the Fed's 2 percent target. He added that a further drop may prompt the central bank to increase its asset purchases.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke testifies on the outlook for the U.S. economy before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress tomorrow. The Federal Open Market Committee also releases the minutes of its April 30-May 1 meeting tomorrow. Policy makers said after their last meeting that they will keep buying $85 billion of bonds every month, while standing ready to raise or lower purchases as conditions evolve.
Some Fed officials in recent months have signaled they favor scaling back the quantitative-easing program in the next few months. Stocks erased gains yesterday after Fed Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said the U.S. economy has improved "quite a lot" as the central bank maintains record stimulus. The question now is "how much confidence we have that the improvements that have been made will continue and be sustained," said Evans, who holds a vote on the FOMC this year.
The S&P 500 has surged 146 percent from its 12-year low in 2009, driven by better-than-estimated corporate earnings and three rounds of bond purchases from the Fed.
Eight companies on the S&P 500 post their financial results today. Of the stocks that have released earnings this season, 71 percent have beaten analysts' estimates, while 52 percent have missed analysts' sales predictions.
Carnival plunged 7 percent to $32.85 as it said price cuts undertaken after a series of mishaps will hurt margins. The company's revenue per customer has fallen since it cut ticket prices in an attempt to fill cabins.
Rival cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. lost 2.5 percent to $36.88.
Apple Inc. lost 0.7 percent to $439.90. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer appear at 9:30 a.m. Washington time before a Senate panel that yesterday released a report saying the iPhone maker has created a web of offshore entities to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. taxes.
Urban Outfitters slid 2.8 percent to $43.25. Sales of $648.2 million in the first quarter fell short of the $655.1 million average estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Best Buy Co. dropped 1.8 percent to $26.33 as the biggest consumer-electronics retailer posted an $81 million first- quarter net loss as the company lowers prices to compete with online rivals.
Home Depot increased 3.6 percent to $79.50. America's largest home-improvement retailer beat analyst estimates for first-quarter profit. Home Depot is benefiting from rising U.S. home prices that are giving homeowners the confidence to start projects and spend more. Profit this year will be $3.52 a share, up from a previous estimate of $3.37, the company said.
Medtronic Inc. jumped 4.6 percent to $52.20. The world's biggest maker of heart-rhythm devices posted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.10 a share, exceeding the $1.03 profit projected by analysts on average. Sales in the period also beat estimates.]]>
The three-person panel, which is slated to examine the school's policies and procedures related to public safety, will be headed by Montana State University President Waded Cruzado.
"The terrible events of April 15 will linger and leave sorrow in the hearts of Americans for a long time," Grossman said in prepared remarks. "Our campus - like everyone - mourns for those killed and injured, while remaining strong and resilient in support of the great City of Boston and this entire commonwealth."
Grossman added that although UMass Dartmouth received "positive feedback" from law enforcement, students and parents, it is "important that we closely examine all related policies and procedures. We need to know what we did well and where we can improve so that our university and others across the nation can learn lessons from our experience."
In addition to Cruzado, the task force will include University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst and James Bueerrmann, president of the Washington-based Police Foundation.
"We are fortunate to have these esteemed professionals willing to commit their time and effort to this undertaking," Grossman said in a statement. "Each of the task force members combines the experience, expertise and integrity we need to ensure a high-quality review that will inform our future decision-making."
Grossman added that the task force would have full access to all necessary resources and personnel, as well as the cooperation of "everyone in the UMass Dartmouth community."
The panel is charged with conducting a full review of the school's policies and procedures, including those related to: emergency planning related to public safety and business continuity; academic and financial policies and procedures related to maintaining "student in good standing" status; and policies and procedures related to the recruitment and support of international students.
The task force is set to complete its report by August 15.
"Universities play an important role in ensuring that international students are in compliance with the requirements of their student visas. That responsibility, as well as our duty to maintain a safe and secure campus environment, will be key areas in this review, and I look forward to this panel's findings," Grossman said.
"In addition, in order to maintain a campus atmosphere that values first and foremost the quality of education, universities must be vigilant in constructing and enforcing robust policies on student academic and financial responsibilities," she added. "In undertaking this review we have the opportunity to look closely at ourselves and be a model of accountability and transparency for others."]]>