KINGSTON, R.I. – October 27, 2005 – The first Business-to-Business Statewide Expo at the Ryan Center was really a pep rally for small businesses and the University of Rhode Island. Gov. Donald Carcieri, Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty and URI Vice President Robert Weygand were among the event’s strongest boosters.
Carcieri opened the expo, which was sponsored by the South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, saying he “always loves to come to the University of Rhode Island” and that he was happy to be with so many small firms because “50 percent of jobs in Rhode Island are from small businesses. If business is prospering, then our state does well,” said Carcieri. “It will generate jobs.”
Carcieri has set a goal of generating 20,000 new jobs in the coming years. There are $3.6 billion of private investment projects in Rhode Island, as well as government projects to improve Rhode Island’s infrastructure, which will reach a combined total of $5 billion.
“I have lived in Rhode Island my whole life, and I don’t remember anything of this magnitude,” Carcieri said about the capital investment.
Carcieri explained that there is a big effort in Rhode Island to improve the skills of young people in the workforce. “If we can generate jobs, “ said Carcieri, “we need people to fill them.”
Carcieri and Weygand agreed that URI will play a major role in that effort. Weygand, who graduated from URI in 1971, and is now one its top administrators, was the final speaker at the opening ceremony of the expo. “A skilled workforce is necessary to help the growing economy and for the livelihood of the people,” said Weygand.
Weygand outlined numerous projects, including the Biotechnology and Life Sciences center, which will be the first of part of a new health and life sciences hub on the Kingston Campus.
“There were 95 booths, which was amazing for the first year of a trade show,” said Kara Russo, marketing director of the Ryan Center and co-chair of the event.
”The exhibitors were very enthusiastic, and are already looking forward to next year.”
Other highlights of the expo were the seminars on human resources and marketing, the taste of South County, which featured food from more than 20 restaurants; Arlene Violet’s live broadcast on 920 WHJJ radio and a business attire fashion show, which featured Weygand as a model.
Gov. Donald Carcieri chats with exhibitors from Sweet Twist Homemade Chocolates during the Business-to-Business Statewide Expo at the Ryan Center. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography,