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Rhode Island, We Have A Problem...

Last Christmas, I received a framed image that I think accurately represents the Ocean State.

Art Credit: Milkcan Industries

"So Much Potential", a valid statement but a statement that shouldn't be true. Rhode Island shouldn't have potential, they should be shattering glass ceilings. As someone who has called Rhode Island my home for the past eight years, it stinks when the state is perceived negatively. Today was one of those days where it was tough to be a RI stan. It kills me to write about the state where I helped Co-Found two companies and a place where I consider myself one of its biggest cheerleaders.

You're probably asking what got me on this tangent, well the biggest factor that has created so much frustration is the most glaring issue that the state faces—our infrastructure stinks. Our country is less than 300 years old, and we have roads, bridges, and buildings that are decaying away. I cringe every time my tire hits a pothole, I get frustrated by the copious amounts of traffic, re-routed traffic patterns, multitude of closures, and dozens of projects that have still been "in the works" for the past decade. Today's DOT news of the bridge closure in Providence put me over the edge.

Then you have McCoy Stadium and the opportunity for Pawtucket to right their wrong. Since the city foolishly let the PawSox relocate to Worcester, Soloviev Group CEO Michael Hershman attempted to purchase the stadium in hopes of bringing a team and attraction back to the city. Instead, Mayot Don Greibien elected to make it the home of a new highschool. Make it make sense...

And finally, the saddest news of them all is the announcement of the changes being made at Hasbro. 100 years ago this week, three Jewish brothers, Herman, Hillel, & Henry Hassenfeld, founded 'Hassenfeld Brothers' in Providence. The company originally resold cloth scraps and then expanded to pencil cases. Today, the company is now known as Hasbro, and they have an annual revenue of 5 billion dollars. Today, they also announced the future closing of their prominent downtown headquarters and the layoff of 1,100 people. They ranked in the Top-15 of state employers before that.

This is a macro issue rather than a micro, but it's gut-wrenching. Are we going to see another Bank of America situation on our hands? I am not trying to make this political, but I am hoping that the right people see this. What the hell is going wrong in this state?

It's a shame that this is where we are, especially when you have individuals and groups who are actively trying to save the state.

What annoys me even more is that people are trying to make Rhode Island better. Ed Brady is trying to revitalize Cranston and recreate the Park Theater. Rhode Island FC is bringing a pro sports team here. They finally have a project for the deteriorating Super Man Building. Besides providing work and opportunity in this state, do you know what they all have in common? Negative media attention, pushback from both the community and government level, and no excitement generated around it. Why? That truly beats me.

Maybe because that potential we talked about earlier is a bleak future as we stand. Let's take it a step further. According to US News, Rhode Island ranks poorly in the following categories.

They however rank 2nd in Health Care, and that's mainly because of Brown University, and I would even debate this state, and 9th in Natural Environment (which is valid). Oh, and they are 6th and Crime and Corrections, which isn't a trackable stat that should be jeered. All in all, we sit at the bottom, and I ask why.

This state has the opportunity to breathe creativity and innovation. Providence is touted as the "Creative Capital", but why isn't that at the forefront? They could be a hub for technology and entrepreneurship. The Industrial Revolution took place in Rhode Island, when will be the next generational boom? If the leadership above doesn't take a stand, then we are going to watch this state fall.

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