Raimondo Touts Jobs From Newly Approved Commerce Incentives

May 21, 2018

The scene at the meeting at the Commerce Corp.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Tax incentives approved Monday by the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. board -- including a previously announced agreement with submarine maker Electric Boat -- will create 2,000 jobs and about 1,000 more construction jobs, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The Electric Boat initiative represents more than half of the new jobs touted by the governor. The newly approved agreements involve three other companies:

-- Infinity Meat Solutions, a meat processing, packaging and distribution company, which is a subsidiary of Retail Business Services, part of Ahold Delhaize USA. Commerce officials said Infinity Meat Solutions will create 700 new food manufacturing and distribution jobs and that the company plans to build a new 200,000-square foot processing plant. The company is eligible for up to about $948,000 in Qualified Jobs incentives each year for up to 10 years based on Infinity hitting specified hiring targets and the start of employees paying Rhode Island income taxes.

-- iXblue, a maritime navigation contractor, plans to relocate to Rhode Island from Natick, Massachusetts, with about 22 jobs. The company will be eligible for up to about $100,000 in Qualified Jobs incentives, each year for up to 10 years, after the jobs are created in Rhode Island.

-- Advertising Ventures, a branding company with offices in Providence and Miami, plans to add 10 jobs. It will be eligible for up to about $26,000 in Qualified Jobs incentives for up to 10 years.

Raimondo, who is seeking re-election this year, pointed to the job agreements as evidence that the state is moving in the right direction. State officials said the pacts will add $118 million in new state revenue over 15 years.

"We're really on a roll," Raimondo told reporters after the meeting. "You can see it wherever you, new companies coming here. We've created over 1,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year, good jobs where you can make a good living spending your day making things. And that wasn't by accident. That's a lot of hard work paying off and we have to keep moving forward."

Some rival candidates for governor say Rhode Island has become too dependent on tax incentives during Raimondo's administration.

Mack Barber, president of iXblue Defense Systems, identified the Qualified Jobs incentive as a key reason for the company's move to Rhode Island. In an interview after the Commerce meeting, Barber downplayed the idea that more generous incentives could one day lead iXblue to relocate to a different state.

"So many of our partnerships are based in Rhode Island, so even beyond the incentive program, it still makes an enormous amount of sense for us to be physically located here," Barber said. "We have some specific facility requirements that are unique and so the build-out cost is higher than you normally would have, and the incentive program bridged that gap."

Speaking with reporters, Raimondo acknowledged that companies motivated by incentives could one day leave the state.

"But if we continue on the path we’re on, which is to say investing in job training programs, making it easier and cheaper to do business, I think they’re going to stay and grow here," she said. "Rhode Island is an amazing place to live, it’s a great place to do business – we have a lot of hardworking people here. I’m confident when companies come here, they will stay here and grow here."

The governor said the Qualified Jobs incentive program shows that the state has learned the lesson of 38 Studios, the video game maker that went bankrupt after being lured to Rhode Island with a state-backed loan guarantee.

"We're doing it the right way, which is to say transparent programs that anybody can apply for," Raimondo said, "and no company gets one penny until after the jobs are created, so there's accountability and also, it's working."