Morfessis Mortification

Ioanna Morfessis has obviously thought long and hard about taking the thankless RIEDC chief job here in RI and has decided to bow out. I don't believe her contrived excuse for turning down the job - a sudden illness in her family - for a moment, despite what she says. Governor Carcieri and the search committee that were ready to bestow the $250,000 a year salary on her must be mortified by the dramatic turn of events.

Morfessis probably saw the handwriting on the wall - a challenge to her salary was certainly going to be mounted in the state senate, and the very difficult challenges RI faces would make quick work of her optimism and drive.

Governor Carcieri, the RIEDC search committee and the Providence Chamber of Commerce should rethink the desperate desire to bag a top national candidate and instead give the job to Michael Saul, the current interim director. RIEDC is so hampered in its efforts to attract new business to the state because of everything else that is wrong here, that no one is going to make a significant difference in the job at this point.

Save the money.


  1. John, I'd be interested in your views on the whole idea of the RIEDC. It seems to function merely as a PR agency and small-time deal broker for tax breaks and other subsidies for new entrants into RI. Those are awfully small counterweights to the oppressive tax, union and regulatory burdens that keep businesses out of the state. How can it hope to achieve its stated goals against those systemic obstacles?

    On the other hand, if the EDC develops a coherent progam of changes to the tax/union/regulatory system here to make RI genuinely competitive, and demands that the General Assembly enact it, that would be a dramatic difference from its present role. Meanwhile, its annual budget of around $5 million seems to be wasted.

    Also, since you're the owner of an existing business here, what do you about special deals offered to prospective newcomers while nothing is offered to keep you here?

  2. Thanks for commenting, Bob, as always. No, like you, I don't think RIEDC has been very effective in recent years. Part of that problem, I think, has been mission muddle - an example, the last director Saul Kaplan focused on creating a WiFi infrastructure across the state, which of course went nowhere. Visionary, yes, but how practical to immediate needs?

    RIEDC hasn't paid much attention to exisiting businesses in the state - they've focused on landing the next big corporation. They had some success there but it came at the expense of manufacturing and the state's small business community.

    They have been of little assistance to my company Taco because the attention has always been elsewhere.

    JHW Jr.


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