Providence, RI - In his continuing effort to address the fiscal challenges of Rhode Island's cities and towns and revitalize Rhode Island's economy, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee hosted three packed community forums this week in Pawtucket, West Warwick, and Cranston to hear from dozens of local small business owners and discuss ways to help them succeed, grow the economy, and create jobs for Rhode Islanders.
"Small businesses are the backbone of Rhode Island communities and their success will be a key factor in the revitalization of the state's cities and towns. These forums were an excellent opportunity for me and other state and local leaders to continue to hear directly from small business owners and make sure they're informed of the array of services the state has to offer them as well as get feedback. My Administration is committed to helping small businesses grow and create jobs, and getting the information out there is a big part of that," Governor Chafee said.
Representatives from the Governor's Office, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), municipalities, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Ocean State Business Development Authority (OSBDA) were on-hand to answer questions, assist small business owners, and schedule follow-up one-on-one appointments.
Governor Chafee hosted the forums in conjunction with Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, West Warwick town officials, RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes, Mark Hayward, District Director of the Rhode Island District Office of the SBA, representatives from local Chambers of Commerce, and Henry A. "Bud" Violet, President of the OSBDA.
"It was very gratifying to see such a strong response from members of the Pawtucket business community who packed the meeting room Wednesday for the Outreach Forum conducted by Governor Chafee, RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes and their skilled staff people. Besides getting expert help on issues from accessing capital to renewable energy, I think everyone came away with the feeling that their state and city officials are available and eager to help their businesses prosper and grow," said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien.
"Our meeting with state officials and West Warwick leaders was very productive, and, I think, was a good beginning to ongoing discussions with the town," said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. "Town officials were very interested to hear about our fašade improvement program as well as recent amendments we made to local zoning ordinances that create Village Districts. The village of Arctic has a lot of history and wonderful buildings whose revitalization and reuse will bring job opportunities to the area, and we are ready to offer our input and suggestions to local officials as they move forward with their economic development initiatives."
"The City of Cranston was excited to host Governor Chafee and RIEDC's business community forum. Businesses are an integral component to Cranston's economic stability and long-term jobs growth," said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. "This forum represents a unique opportunity for our entrepreneurs to ask questions specific to their industry and receive direct feedback from our local and state economic development and government officials. Our city has been sculpted by our businesses and the officials participating in this forum today want to see this base continue to grow in the future."
Forum discussions focused on state programs and initiatives developed for: a) providing greater access to financing and credit for small businesses; b) making it easier to do business by creating clear, predictable and reliable regulatory and permitting processes; c) revitalizing urban communities and business; and d) energy efficiency programs to help businesses operate more cost effectively.
"With Governor Chafee's leadership, the RIEDC Board is working with businesses and municipalities to develop a job and business growth plan that will help people in Rhode Island communities thrive and prosper," said RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes. "Forums like the ones Governor Chafee is hosting this week are an important part of hearing first hand from small businesses how we can best help them succeed and create jobs."
"The SBA was pleased to participate in Governor's Chafee's continuing efforts to address the fiscal challenges of Rhode Island's cities and towns by helping small businesses succeed and create jobs. We're glad to be part of community outreach forums like these with the Governor and the RIEDC that provide businesses with the information and professional contacts that can help them grow, and we look forward to participating in future such events," said Mark Hayward, District Director of the Rhode Island District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Comments from Small Business Owners
"As a small business owner looking to expand, having access to financing that will help my business continue to grow is very important. I'm grateful for Governor Chafee, the RIEDC and all the other state and local representatives for taking the time to listen to the Pawtucket business community and for informing us about the programs available to help us succeed," said Scott Davis, owner of Rhode Island Antiques Mall in Pawtucket.
"I've been a business owner in Rhode Island for 22 years, and reaching out to agencies like the SBA, CWE and RISBDC for information and resources has been key to my success here," said Gail Ahlers, owner of Ahlers Designs.com in Pawtucket. "I thank Governor Chafee for providing an opportunity for local small businesses like mine to learn more about some of the new initiatives aimed at making it easier for businesses to grow, and I look forward to sharing what I learned with fellow business owners."
"As a small business owner, I really appreciate Governor Chafee's community forums that provide me with information that will help my business," said Tammy Collins, president and owner of Paragon Small Business Solutions in West Warwick. "I work directly with small businesses every day, and the more that I can learn about resources available to us, the more I can educate them and help them to expand and grow in our community."
"I have met with Governor Chafee, EDC Director Stokes, legislative leadership and businesses, and it is through these meetings that I believe that Rhode Island is on the right track to providing services and programs to small and medium sized businesses that will help them grow," said John E. Migliaccio, owner of Medi-Weightloss Clinics in Rhode Island.