Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo unveiled a plan Monday to help small businesses in Rhode Island that would eliminate what she calls "regulatory rigmarole" and encourage startups.
The treasurer said she would, if elected, conduct a comprehensive review of all regulations in her first year, speeding up the work the Office of Regulatory Reform has begun. She also wants to create a single online source for all state and municipal permitting and a "concierge" service to help businesses navigate the regulatory landscape.
In addition, Raimondo's plan calls for better promotion of the state's successful incubator programs to attract potential entrepreneurs; expanded use of a federal visa program designed to attract new foreign investment; and improved access to seed capital.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the state's economy," Raimondo said in announcing the plan at Foolproof Brewing in Pawtucket, which has grown quickly in its first 15 months.
She called for a culture change and said small businesses and startups need to be nurtured.
"Too often, cities in this state treat small businesses as adversaries," she said. "We all need to work together. There's no us versus them."
Raimondo is running in the Democratic primary against Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and political newcomer Clay Pell. Gov. Lincoln Chafee is not seeking re-election.
The small business plan is the final plank in Raimondo's five-part job-creation package.
She said the state hasn't done enough to address its high unemployment 9 percent in February and needs a comprehensive strategy for economic development.
"We need to be bolder," she said.
Rob Yaffe, who owns two restaurants and a bakery, including The Grange in Providence, was one of several small business owners with Raimondo at the plan's rollout. He called the regulatory system "very dysfunctional" and said there is too much bureaucracy and paperwork.