Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

R.I. urged to focus on homegrown firms

Report says state should ease rules to spur growth

PROVIDENCE — Rhode ­Island should do more to retain and support its home-grown businesses and loosen regulatory restrictions as it seeks to revamp economic development efforts, an outside consultant hired to analyze the state economy said Wednesday.

In a report presented to Governor Lincoln Chafee, Fourth Economy Consulting of Pittsburgh urged the state to ‘‘create one voice’’ and set a clearer course for developing the state’s struggling economy. The state has lost 4.5 percent of its jobs between 2002 and 2012, and it is tied with Nevada for having the country’s highest unemployment rate, 10.2 percent.

Continue reading below

Rich Overmoyer, chief executive officer of Fourth Economy, said in releasing the report at the State House that Rhode Island should support its existing businesses and cultivate inno­vative companies being launched, including through mentoring and incubator programs.

‘‘You can grow your own,’’ he said.

Overmoyer also stressed that improvement takes time.

‘‘There are no quick solutions,’’ he said. ‘‘It takes a lot of concerted effort and planning to move forward.’’

The 104-page report, one of several released on the state economy in recent months, ­analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Rhode Island’s existing industry clusters, includ­ing information technology and digital media, tourism, life sciences, and marine trades.

But it said state leaders should move beyond the traditional cluster model and combine areas of strength to compensate for the fact that Rhode Island’s economy is so small.

The report identified several potential new opportunities, including biotextiles, advanced boat and ship building, and fitness and recreation.

The report said the state has taken steps to ease burdensome regulations — and should do more on that front — but ­described its tax climate as a ‘‘challenge.’’

Chafee has proposed in next year’s budget to cut the corporate tax rate from 9 percent to 7 percent over three years, which would make it the lowest in New England, rather than the highest.

Chafee, an independent, said the data and analysis in the report will help guide Rhode ­Island’s economic development efforts in a deliberate, methodical way. One thing the state must do is ‘‘make sure we don’t lose focus on the companies that are here in Rhode ­Island,’’ he said.

‘‘Good things are happening,’’ he told reporters after ­being briefed on the report. ‘‘We’re building the economy the right way.’’

The study was funded in part through a $1.9 million federal grant Rhode Island received as part of the White House’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.

A separate report by Policy­Link, also released Wednesday, looked at Rhode Island’s changing demographics and how that will affect its economy.

The study pointed out that more than a quarter of all black and Latino Rhode Islanders live below the poverty line and that, by 2040, 41 percent of the state’s population will be ­minorities.

Chafee pointed out that the makeup of the state and the nation is changing and that Rhode Island needs to work to close racial achievement and employment gaps.

‘‘Education is the equalizer,’’ he said.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com