Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good Week for RI Economic Development

We had two pieces of good news this week from the RI Economic Development Corporation.

On Tuesday, the RIEDC Board announced that it had approved a $500,000 loan to attract PCS UtiliData, of Spokane, Washington, to relocate to Rhode Island. PCS UtiliData is a control system integrator providing automation,  consulting, engineering, design, integration, control, automated energy conservation and energy management solutions to the electric utility industry.  The company will initially bring 8 to 15 jobs to Rhode Island by the end of 2012, and plans to expand to 47 full time employees in Rhode Island by 2015.  The average annual wage for these positions is expected to be about $91,000.

The other piece of good news was the release on Tuesday by Providence-based 38 Studios , owned by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, of its first video game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  Reckoning is a single-player role playing action game that introduces players to the fantasy Kingdom of Amalur.  38 Studios was the subject of a controversial $75 million loan guarantee in 2010 by the State of Rhode Island.  In exchange for an arrangement where the State does not loan any money directly to 38 Studios, but guarantees the repayment of a $75 million loan by banks and other investors, 38 Studios agreed to relocate its headquarters to Providence and create up to 450 jobs here by 2013.  (In a loan guarantee, the State is only obligated to pay the lenders if 38 Studios defaults on the loan).  The State's guarantee is secured by 38 Studio's second project, currently called "Copernicus," which is being developed in Rhode Island.  The successful release of the first game makes it more likely that the second game will also be successfully released, in which case the State's loan guarantee will be cancelled, and the deal will be considered a "home run" in economic development circles.

Jobs are jobs.  Economic development is a slow but steady way to increase jobs.  Let's hope the EDC can continue its progress.

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