With Rhode Island's economy continuing to languish behind its neighbors — and much of the country — Bristol and Warren Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall has submitted a bill that asks: why not designate the entire state as an enterprise zone?
“With the highest unemployment rate in the nation, our whole state needs a boost of economic development. We need to make sure every city and town in Rhode Island has all the economic development tools possible at their disposal when meeting with both existing businesses as well as new businesses seeking to expand job opportunities with Rhode Island,” Marshall said.
The legislation (2014-H 7209) states the level of distress all over the state has reached a point where the whole state qualifies to be classified as an enterprise zone.
“Since the great recession of 2008, certain distressed areas in this state characterized by substantial and persistent levels of unemployment, blighted areas, obsolete, dilapidated and abandoned industrial and commercial structures have increased to the point where these conditions constitute a statewide condition,” the bill states.
Under the legislation, the designation would last five years, or until Rhode Island’s unemployment rate matches the national average, whichever is sooner. It could be renewed.
If approved, companies all over the state would qualify for state and any available federal tax credits for hiring new employees.
“Expanding the enterprise zone designation to entire state would be a shot in the arm for hiring in Rhode Island, not only putting more people to work but ensuring that more people have money to spend in our economy, stimulating further growth,” Marshall said.
The legislation was introduced Jan. 29 and transmitted to the House Finance Committee. It is cosponsored by Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield), Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket) and Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).