PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island's entrepreneurs may be getting more optimistic about the economy's recovery, based on new data from the Secretary of State's office, which tracks yearly corporate filings.
"The economy has had a traumatic few years, so let's be careful about reading too much into these numbers. The pain isn't over, but there are signs that things may be turning around," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
The steady decline in the number of new business starts over the past few years ended in 2011. For the first time since 2007, the number of new filings actually increased year-over-year.
But, overall, the growth was modest, 6,846 in 2011 compared to 6,778 in 2010. As a basis for comparison, there were 7,837 start-ups in 2007.
"Based on our work with start-ups all year long, we were pretty sure 2011 would be more hopeful. But we were surprised to see such an improvement," said Mollis.
And there have been three straight years of growth in any corporate business classification for the first time since 2007. The number of newly formed limited liability companies (LLCs) rose to 4,202 in 2011, up 4.8 percent compared to 2010 and 5.5 percent since the streak began in 2009.
LLCs are a type of business entity that has the liability-shield advantages of a corporation and the flexibility and tax pass-through advantages of a partnership. For several years, it has been growing in popularity compared to the for-profit corporate structure.
There are signs that the economic shake-out is not over, though. In 2011, 6,627 corporate entities disappeared in 2011, about 7 percent more than 2010 when 6,183 companies shut their doors. Still, Rhode Island did better than in 2008, when a record 7,071 companies went out of existence.
"The state's economic troubles have taken a terrible toll on Rhode Islanders. We can only hope the worst is behind us," 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 created e-commerce tools to reduce paperwork. We're focused on making it easier to start a business in Rhode Island," Mollis explained.
State law designates the Secretary of State's office as the place for most types of corporate entities to register. In addition, the office oversees recording commercial liens, protecting corporate trademarks and maintains the records of notaries public.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.
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