McKee nominates 2 for R.I. Life Sciences Hub board

FOURTEEN FARMS across the state received a total of $256,000 in agricultural energy grants to support their renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Gov. Daniel J. McKee announced Friday. PBN FILE PHOTO/

PROVIDENCE – The new R.I. Life Sciences Hub board is beginning to take shape. 

Gov. Daniel J. McKee on Tuesday appointed E. Armand Sabitoni and Ernie A. Almonte to the panel. The appointments, which need state Senate approval, fulfill the statutory requirement that the governor appoint a representative of organized labor and a member of the public who shall be a certified public accountant and a member of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants. 

Sabitoni has served as the Laborers’ International Union of North America’s second-highest ranking officer since 2001. As New England regional manager, he represented more than 60,000 members across the six New England states, as well as most of New York, until his retirement from both positions in April 2023.  

He currently serves as vice chairman of the University of Rhode Island Board of Trustees.

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Almonte is the executive director of Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. He previously served 16 years as R.I. auditor general and is the former associate director of the R.I. Department of Health and a national partner of RSM US LLP. In 2022 he was appointed as the Army Reserve ambassador for Rhode Island by the secretary of the Army. 

“I am pleased to appoint Armand and Ernie to this important board that will drive economic growth and innovation across Rhode Island. I’m confident that their leadership skills and broad experience will help ensure Rhode Island solidifies its position as a national leader in the life science sector for decades to come,” McKee said. “I look forward to making additional appointments to the board to help grow our strong team of leaders who will drive this crucial work.” 

Supported by $45 million in McKee’s fiscal 2024 budget, the Rhode Island Life Sciences Hub will be responsible for coordinating investments and development of the state’s biotech and life science industries.

The hub will also boost development of medical advances and scientific breakthroughs with companies that specialize in various medical fields, including medical devices, biogenetics, genomics and life sciences.

Also, with investments of grants, tax credits and incentives the hub would fund and support Rhode Island-based life science companies that promote economic and workforce development. 

Almonte has also served in numerous positions as chairperson of audit committees including universities, the Department of Defense Audit Advisory Committee at the Pentagon, and as a member of the Government Auditing Standards Committee for the Comptroller General of the U.S. 

“I am looking forward to helping the state of Rhode Island to become a leader in the life sciences industry. I am grateful for the opportunity to help our state to propel growth and development for the life sciences industry,” Almonte said.

Sabitoni said he was honored by the governor’s appointment.

“Together with leaders in business, health care and education we can unleash our state’s potential to be a competitive player in life science research and development, creating good careers and economic development,” he said.

On Oct. 13, McKee nominated Neil D. Steinberg as chairman of the 15-member board of the new quasi-public corporation. McKee still has four appointments he needs to fill: a member of a life science trade association, president or a senior executive of a Rhode Island based life science company and two senior executives of Rhode Island-based life science companies specializing in biomanufacturing.

According to the legislation, all appointments must be confirmed by the state Senate. The General Assembly reconvenes in January. 

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