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Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Nominates Peter Crowley for RIEDC Board, Replacing Alison Vareika

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced his nomination of Peter Crowley, owner of Newport's La Forge Casino Restaurant, for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) Board of Directors.

"I am pleased that native Newporter Peter Crowley has agreed to be nominated for the EDC Board," Governor Chafee said. "Peter, as owner of the La Forge restaurant, a Newport landmark, knows how valuable tourism and hospitality are to the Rhode Island economy. He understands Newport and Aquidneck Island and will bring that perspective to the Board."

"I appreciate the Governor's commitment to having Aquidneck Island represented on the Board," Crowley said. "The tourism and hospitality industries are among the strongest sectors of the Rhode Island economy, and as owner of a Newport restaurant I am well aware of their importance to our state. I am honored by the Governor's confidence in my experience and the value of my perspective."

Peter Crowley is the longtime owner of La Forge Casino Restaurant. Located on Newport's famed Bellevue Avenue and situated on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Crowley family have owned and operated La Forge for nearly 50 years. Named after the original owner, La Forge, the restaurant's menu, style, and friendly atmosphere reflect the Crowley family's Irish heritage.

Mr. Crowley is a Board member of Newport Federal Bank and Hazard's Beach, and is a former Board member of the Newport Trust and Investment Committee. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Salve Regina University for approximately 20 years.

Mr. Crowley resides in Newport.

Alison Vareika, founding co-owner of William Vareika Fine Arts Ltd, which was the Newport County Chamber of Commerce's 2011 "Small Business of the Year," withdrew her nomination, citing criticism of an alleged conflict because her son, Christian Vareika, is an aide to the Governor.

"While neither the Governor nor I believe there to be any legitimate problem with my taking a volunteer position while my son served on his staff, there has been some unfair criticism over a perceived conflict," Vareika said. "Although, when asked by the Governor, I was willing to serve my state despite the challenges surrounding the EDC at this time, like any parent, I am not willing to put my son in a difficult position."

"The Vareikas have been very involved in Rhode Island causes, particularly on Aquidneck Island, for decades, and Alison's agreement to put her name forward is another example of that commitment to our state," Governor Chafee said. "Unfortunately, while there was no conflict in her serving on a volunteer Board while her son is on my staff, there were concerns raised. Ultimately, Alison felt that it was unfair to her family to continue to pursue the position and although I am disappointed by her decision, I respect and accept it."

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