RI Commerce Promotes Raimondo Video; RIers Lash Out on Social Media

Friday, June 30, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

RI Commerce shared a recent video by Governor Gina Raimondo
The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation recently promoted a video by Governor Gina Raimondo in which she touted jobs and the state's economy  -- and was met with a less-than-positive reception on the Facebook page of the state agency tasked with furthering business and tourism. 

"4 letters. U H I P," wrote one commenter, of the social services delivery debacle in the state. "$300 million...and will never work. "

"Just more smoke and mirrors," wrote another commenter on the Raimondo video. 

SLIDES: See Video Reaction Below 

The Commerce Corporation on its website touts that it is "dedicated to stimulating economic growth in Rhode Island...the Commerce Corporation is in the business of business."

The public-facing Facebook page for Commerce has just over over 1,000 likes, while the Newport County Chamber has approximately 1,900; the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce has 20,000 - and Discover Newport over 51,000.  

Latest in Social Media Struggle

The nearly ten to one ratio of negative comments to positive on the Raimondo video is not the first time Commerce has faced backlash on its Facebook page.

The appearance of Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor on a recent political TV show - and posted to Facebook -- garnered similar reaction.  Commerce did not respond to request for comment if they had concern as to the feedback in social media.

Raimondo and Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor
Not all of the comments on the page were negative, however. 

"To me Gina Raimondo is by far the best Governor we have had, since Bruce Sundlun! We have had far too many years just wasted by people without any clue at all, playing Governor. Gina is fair and she is working everyday trying to help," wrote one commenter. 

Commerce in the Crosshairs

Created in the wake of the 38 Studios debacle, the Commerce Corporation replaced the beleaguered RI Economic Development Corporation.

As GoLocal wrote in 2013:

Legislation approved during the 2013 General Assembly included the creation of a Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, along with an Executive Office -- as well as Secretary -- of Commerce.  

Now, the prospect that millions in federal funding could be at stake has been broached, due to the impending loss of the current Economic Development Corporation's Federal Identification Numbers when the Commerce Corporation takes effect on January 1.   The new iteration of the EDC is already off to a tumultuous start -- when it hasn't even begun.  

See when the EDC started, key moments in the 38 Studios debacle, and the proposal -- and approval -- for a Commerce Corporation to take its place. 

Fast forward to what GoLocal wrote earlier this month

Pound for pound, the agencies that saw the biggest cuts in the fast moving FY 2018 budget contain Governor Gina Raimondo’s economic initiatives.

Combined, Commerce RI and the I-195 Commission absorbed more than $20 million in cuts in the House finance budget released this week, versus what the Governor proposed.

The cuts to the economic programs seemed to take both the Governor and Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor by surprise when they emerged this week during the negotiations.

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