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12 to Watch in 2012: Jim Bennett

Friday, December 30, 2011

 

The energetic leader who knows how to sell: Jim Bennett.

When Jim Bennett was named Providence’s Economic Development Director this summer, former Mayor Joe Paolino told GoLocalProv that if there was anyone who could help turn the city around, it was Bennett. 

If he spent the final few months of 2011 getting his feet wet, 2012 will be the year the colorful Bennett immerses himself in reviving a city that has seen better days.  

He’ll do it by recruiting new businesses and retaining already existing ones, but the key will be addressing a downtown that has struggled to remain relevant since the Providence Place mall opened over a decade ago.  

And with talk of Bank of America potentially leaving the Superman building, the threat that more vacant space downtown is on the horizon is very real.  

But that’s only the beginning of the hurdles Bennett will face in 2012. He’s also going to be asked to help clean up the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP), which has been stiffed out of millions in taxpayer dollars that were loaned to dozens of failed businesses across the city. 

Still, there is reason for optimism. Bennett is an energetic leader who knows how to sell a product and in just a short time in the position, he has already had some success. There is no question he can convince businesses to set up shop in Providence. The only question, some local insiders say, is whether the Taveras administration will give him the leeway needed to make the promises that will seal the deal. 

So far so good. Taveras has offered nothing but praise for Bennett and City Hall officials have said his tireless work ethic is setting an example for the entire city.  

“I am honored to serve in Mayor Taveras’ administration and look forward to overseeing the city’s efforts to help businesses prosper, create well-paying jobs and put Providence residents back to work,” Bennett said in August. 

Time to make it happen, Jim.

 

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