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Rhode Island PowerPlayer: Scott Gibbs

Monday, January 14, 2013


1) First, congratulations building one of the most important economic hubs in RI. What are your top three priorities for 2013?

As development of the Highland Corporate Parks project nears its end, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island needs to rethink its business model in response to a changing competitive environment. Therefore, my first priority is to help facilitate this planning process resulting in our Board of Directors defining the organization’s strategic focuses for the next five years.

My second priority is to successfully complete the leasing of our new 20,000 square foot flex building in Highland. Highland has emerged as the highest quality planned corporate development in southeastern New England. Our success in attracting another quality company (or companies) to our new building will further solidify Highland as a critical economic engine in Rhode Island.

My third priority is to continue our efforts to build communication, trust and collaboration with other organizations that are concerned about Rhode Island’s continued economic problems. Rhode Island needs to build a new culture in how it thinks and acts in economic development and our organization wants to be a positive force in this challenge.

2) We've heard so much talk about your facilities positive impact on the economy, but many folks don't know the details - can you help tell the story of the positive impact?

Our organization’s investments have resulted in over 5 million square feet of corporate investment and $300 million of assessed property valuation. These investments are generating over $7 million of annual tax revenue to the local governments where our investments are located. In terms of secondary and tertiary impacts, the economic and fiscal impacts of our projects are significant in our state.

The Highland Corporate Parks is our most recent development and one that we are very proud about. For those who visit Highland for the first time, they are shocked by both the development’s scale and beauty. We were the first in Rhode Island to use a pre-permitting strategy to facilitate private investment. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit, give us a call. We love to brag about this project.

|3) Take us through a day in your life.

I get up early and visit the same breakfast place every day, Coffee and Cream in North Smithfield. I sit with the same group of guys all of whom are blue collar and hard working. Leave your ego at the door. It’s a rough crowd. 

My workday begins at 8:30 and my morning tasks include checking and responding to emails, and checking social media and reposting content that I believe has value to those interested in economic development. I also review my personal and professional objectives for the week, which I set on Monday morning.

The thing I like so much about being an economic development professional is that every day is a new challenge and there is considerable diversity in what I do. Managing Director relations; attending to tenant issues; working with Michelle Godin in my office on property management and budget issues; communicating with our lenders; working with Marcel Valois in responding to prospect and broker inquiries; constantly thinking about the future of our organization; and working with Marcel on how EDFRI can be a positive force in transforming the economic development culture in Rhode Island. I also attend numerous evening meetings as both a volunteer and advisor to several community-based economic development groups. My workday typically ends at 9 PM.

4) What are the challenges to continue the success?

The absence of capital is our greatest challenge. Although we are currently in the process of defining our future strategic directions, we anticipate that one of our strategic directions will be the repositioning of urban assets for entrepreneurs. These types of projects do not meet conventional commercial underwriting standards. How we fill this gap is a significant obstacle to successfully executing this strategy.

Of course, Rhode Island’s business climate is our greatest obstacle to facilitating investment and job creation. We are encouraged by recent comments from the leadership in the Legislature regarding the urgency in attacking the state’s business climate problems.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you. 

For those who know me, I’m an open book. It’s the Midwestern in me so there are no surprises. 

Quick Hitters

Role Model: My oldest son, Colin. He’s a man who demonstrates great integrity, compassion, and leadership.

Favorite Restaurant: Red Stripe - 465 Angell Street

Best Beach: Narragansett

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: The Black Swan – Nassim Taleb

Advice for the Next Scott Gibbs: Just do what’s right. The rest will take care of itself. 


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