NEW: Wholesale Changes Suggested for EDC
Friday, August 10, 2012
The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) would be completely revamped under a proposal put forth today.
The plan, submitted by former Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) director Gary Sasse and Scott Gibbs and Marcel Valois (the president and vice president of the Economic Development Foundation), would focus on strategic development, collaboration and a new board that would focus on marketing and reputation management, direct Investments in economic development programs and R&D and public financing programs.
The proposal comes nearly three months after Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios laid off every single employee less than two years after the EDC board signed off on a $75 million loan guarantee for the video game company.
The fallout led to the resignation of executive director Keith Stokes and caused several lawmakers to call for major changes to the quasi-public agency. The agency also faced criticism last month after it confirmed that it was paying off a loan given to Capco Steel in Providence.
But the suggested changes would address more than a few failed loans.
With the state’s unemployment rate at 10.9 percent, Sasse, Gibbs and Valois are calling for wholesale changes to the agency. The plan calls for strategic planning and economic policy activities to be housed in the Governor’s office and suggests that an independent university-based economic research collaborative be created.
The work from the Governor’s office would facilitate the alignment of statewide goals with evidence-based decision making to better position the state to effectively allocate resources and compete for and capitalize on growth opportunities, the report states.
“Successful implementation of a world class economic development system will require strong gubernatorial and legislative leadership in order to effectively lead and coordinate the missions of state agencies, the private sector and higher education institutions,” the report states. “The retooled economic development infrastructure should be built to ensure horizontal and vertical integration by breaking down existing silos to provide for the strategic alignment of programs, policies and resources.”
The research collaborative would, among other things, collect and aggregate critical economic data, create dashboard indicators to measure specific trends, benchmark performance to other regions, develop performance metrics and track innovation drivers.
“The research collaborative should be responsible to provide the Governor and General Assembly with real time economic data and analysis that they will need to make informed decisions pertaining to the state’s economy,” the proposal states.
The opportunity to retool the EDC will likely be viewed as a step in the right direction to many. Earlier this year, URI business professor Dr. Edward Mazze said there has been a major disconnect between the government's approach in helping business and what businesses actually need.
He said the state needs economic development programs that are transparent and an EDC that can evaluate and manage business opportunities that make sense.
“This may be the time for the consolidation of economic development efforts in Rhode Island,” Mazze said. “The state should focus its efforts on a reorganized, more business friendly and better focused state Economic Development Corporation which recognizes and capitalizes on the state's sustainable competitive advantages rather than the ‘fads and dreams’ of the Corporation's senior management.”
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.