Rhode Island has a well-deserved reputation for being a high-cost, over-regulated state. And in the last decade, a number of initiatives have been tried to combat the Ocean State’s penchant for gumming up the works of local business. Finally, it looks like some of that effort is paying off.
Under the direction of R.I. Department of Business Regulation Director Elizabeth M. Tanner – the name of this state department can be seen as a more-than-backhanded swipe at private enterprise – a significant package of business-regulation streamlining passed in this year’s legislative session. And Ms. Tanner is looking to repeat the process in the 2019 session based on input she gets from the business community.
A number of the regulation rollbacks involved the food and drink sector, with perhaps the most high-profile – and instructive – being ending the requirement that food trucks apply for licenses in each of the municipalities in which they operate. Now there is a single statewide license for all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns. That’s just common sense, and it is an approach that should be applied across a number of business sectors.
Another aspect of the package was the addition of $500,000 to the R.I. Commerce Corp.’s Small Business Assistance Program. That influx of capital is expected to roughly double the 35 loans the program made in 2017.
Taken as a whole, Ms. Tanner’s efforts show a real appreciation for what Rhode Island’s small businesses are looking for from government and an attitude that one hopes to see expand throughout the Statehouse in coming years.