(Updated, 12:50 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – Keith W. Stokes will stay on as executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s spokesman Michael Trainor said Monday.
Trainor said Stokes will be given a one-year contract, even though Stokes has said he has two years left on his appointment.
Stokes was appointed in January 2010 as head of the EDC by then-Gov. Donald L. Carcieri. Trainor said it was unclear yet whether Stokes will need to be approved again by the Senate. Chafee’s legal counsel was “looking into” the matter and would give an update when more information had been confirmed.
Stokes’ future with the EDC had been in question before Monday’s announcement because of Chafee’s firm opposition to the EDC’s $75 million loan guarantee granted to Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios.
“[Gov. Chafee] decided that it would be best to end any speculation on Mr. Stokes’ future. [Chafee] is very comfortable, after an extensive discussion with Keith, that he does share the governor’s views on economic development policy and strategies, and that it was in the best interest of the state that [Stokes] be retained,” Trainor told Providence Business News.
“Keith has established significant and important relationships in economic development,” Trainor added, noting: “Continuity is important here, especially given the depth of the challenge that the state faces.”
When asked by PBN about the governor’s apparent change of heart Trainor said:
“It’s more a case of the governor and [his chief of staff] Pat Rogers spending a lot of time together to map out an agenda of economic development, and within the context of those discussions, it became clear to the governor that retaining Keith Stokes was important in advancing the economic development agenda.”