PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island's battered economy continued to heal in 2010 based on new data from the Secretary of State's office, which tracks business creation and closings.
"It has been a traumatic three years for the economy, so we should be cautious about reading too much into these figures. We expect there will still be pain, but the economy may be starting to heal," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
According to the data collected by his office, the decline in the number of new businesses -- primarily corporations and limited liability companies -- being started slowed compared to 2009.
While just 6,778 businesses were launched in 2010 -- compared to 6,900 in 2009 -- the rate of decline fell by nearly half to just 1.77 percent. In 2008, 7,140 businesses started and in 2007 there were 7,840.
And for the first time since 2007 there has been two straight years of growth in any business classification. The non-profit category grew for the second-straight year -- 529 new non-profit corporations last year -- up from 526 in 2009.
“Based on our work with start-ups all year long, we were pretty sure 2010 would be more hopeful. But we were surprised to see such an improvement. Entrepreneurs may be getting more confident about the economy,” said Mollis.
Mollis pointed to another statistic that may indicate that the economic downturn is slowing. Fewer businesses closed in 2010 than 2009, when 6,483 companies shut their doors. In 2010, 5,928 companies closed. The downturn began in 2008, when a record 7,071 corporate entities went out of existence.
“The state’s economic troubles have taken a terrible toll on Rhode Islanders. We can only hope this means that the worst of the shake-out of existing businesses is over,” said Mollis.
The secretary of state's office is often the first place Rhode Islanders stop when considering starting a business. The First Stop Business Information Center provides custom packages that make it easier to apply for financing, obtain permits and make contacts at every level government.
“We cut red tape, offer free consulting services and put e-commerce tools on our website. Everything we do is focused on helping businesses grow,” Mollis explained.
State law requires most new businesses to register with the Secretary of State’s office in order to carry out a number of activities including direct sales. More than 60,000 companies were registered in 2010.
The secretary of state’s office works with every company registered to do business in Rhode Island. The office oversees recording commercial liens, protecting corporate trademarks and providing advice to small and start-up businesses.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, helping businesses grow and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers businesses, visit www.sos.ri.gov or call (401) 222-3040.