Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was the featured speaker at the 2019 Santander Economic Outlook Breakfast this morning. The subject of the breakfast was the Innovation Campuses Raimondo championed last year. Voters approved a $20 million bond last November in support of what the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White called “a signature initiative of Governor Raimondo and her Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor.” [More on the Innovation Campuses here.]
“All the people who make it happen in Rhode Island are here this morning,” said Raimondo, referring to the audience in attendance, predominantly business owners and high level business administrators. “So I’m quite optimistic actually that with this public-private collection and public-private partnership we will be able to sustain the momentum that we have and really solve any problems that may be coming our way…
“We need to be swimming in the stream of growth,” said Raimondo. “You know who’s growing. You’ve seen the explosion in data science. You’ve seen the explosion in digital. We want that in Rhode Island. So we’re doing everything we can to attract those companies and support those companies…
“Rhode Island’s ready. We have momentum like we haven’t had in a long time. And we’re going to sustain that momentum by being urgent and being pro-business, but also investing in our people.”
Laurie White served as the morning’s emcee. Here are her opening remarks:
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Also speaking was Mike Lee, head of commercial real estate and vehicle financing at Santander US. Lee outlined what he considered to be the four priorities of the business community:
- A well trained, well educated workforce;
- predictable business environment;
- available and affordable housing; and
- transportation and infrastructure.
In addition to these priorities, said Lee, “I also believe that a strong public-private partnership is another key to successful outcomes. Governor, your leadership for a fair, pro-business agenda with a focus on growing the economy and supporting business development is important as it helps businesses encourage job growth…”
At the these Santander Breakfast events there is a live poll conducted in which business leaders are asked questions about future trends. I’ve paired the questions with the poll results in the photos below.
I want to note here that when asked about the most challenging issue their business will encounter this year, not one person in the room chose “environmental compliance.” This probably means that our environmental laws in Rhode Island are too lax, because if no one is complaining, they probably aren’t effective.
The breakfast concluded with a half hour panel talking about the Innovation Campuses which hope to “catalyze academic research into new commercial products and businesses” being constructed in Kingstown and Providence. Voters approved a $20 million bond last November in support of this project. [More background here.]
On the panel was University of Rhode Island President Dr David Dooley, Ji Mi Choi, Associate Vice President of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University and Michael Hallock, CEO of Rhode Island Agricultural Technologies.
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