After nearly a year in office, Governor Gina Raimondo hosted the second Make it in Rhode Island Summit last Wednesday, inviting some of the state’s business, legislative and education leaders to come together to try and tackle some of the issues facing the state.
Raimondo hosted the first summit a year ago in preparation for her inauguration to see what the people of Rhode Island were looking for.
“Last year I asked you to give me your best ideas and many of our accomplishments since have come from your suggestions, the things you wanted to see change last year,” she said.
She mentioned there was a “clear desire” for a statewide tourism initiative and as of the first of the new year the state will be launching a $5 million tourism and business attraction campaign.
Similarly, last year’s summit called for improvements to both infrastructure and school buildings. This year an “infrastructure bank” was established to get “efforts up and running.” Similarly, the School Building Authority Capital Fund provided nearly $20 million for more than 80 renovation projects through 18 districts statewide.
“This work has already started,” Raimondo said.
She said these sorts of initiatives help put people back to work along with 12 new economic development incentive programs across Rhode Island.
She said that businesses are gaining confidence and as such are creating more jobs. This year she said there are 4,000 new Rhode Island jobs.
“Rhode Island is on the move,” Raimondo said. “Tonight we ask ourselves where do we go from here? The economy is stronger now than it was a year ago. We need to seize this momentum and take it to another level. We are fired up and ready to go for next year and we want your input.”
This year’s summit saw more than 200 participants at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus.
David Dooley, president of URI, addressing the crowd, said, “You’re the people who will make it happen here in Rhode Island. This is a night of productive work, a collective and collaborative effort.”
Those in attendance were divided into various working groups to discuss what they would like to see Rhode Island tackle this year and what they would like to accomplish and how.
Dr. Colleen Mercurio, principal of Cedar Hill Elementary, was invited to the summit as a past president for the Rhode Island Association of School Principals. She said that there was a “powerful representation” of the state’s leaders, and summits such as these have “enormous potential” in making serious, positive change for the state.
She was happy to be invited and thought most people would agree they would have liked even more time to converse together and work on positive solutions.
“During the holiday season its amazing they were able to pack the room full of such passionate people, but I think that speaks to the dedication of the people in this state,” she said.