Open Thread: The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation
Philip Marcelo of the Projo reported last week that…
Governor Chafee said on Friday that he is not considering major changes to the state Economic Development Corporation, despite a state-commissioned report calling for a major overhaul of the embattled agency, which came under fire for its handling of the 38 Studios debacle.I know every other state has some sort of economic development body (RIPEC provided a summary of them, at the end of its report on the RI EDC issued earlier this year), but what exactly is it that an “economic development agency” is supposed to achieve?
The question isn’t whether government should be involved with economic development; one way or another it will be. As Justin pointed out earlier this year, during his Ocean State Current coverage of a non-profit/business community get-together, there is a strong perception from people who are trying to do economic stuff that the major way in which government is frequently involved in the current RI economy is as something that needs to be worked around. This leads to a first question: can an economic development agency make any difference with a government as broken as Rhode Island’s is?
The other question is more fundamental: Even under as reasonable as can be hoped for conditions of good government, what exactly is it that a mission-specific economic development agency can do (whether as a quasi-public agency or as a regular government department) to bring about more improvement in the Rhode Island economy that directing the same level of “resources” (i.e., moolah) to more fundamental functions of government cannot?
Ted Nesi, in his Saturday morning post for WPRI-TV (CBS 12), recalled that the RI Department of Economic Development, the forerunner to the current Economic Development Corporation, was only created in 1974. The state got by without one for several centuries. Could it do so — could it even be advantageous to do so — again?