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Bennett named economic development director in Providence

August 15, 2011

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras interviewed four of 61 applicants before picking businessman and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Bennett as the city’s $150,000-a-year economic development director.

The familiarity with Rhode Island of Bennett, a Cranston native and former hockey star who now resides in Narragansett, was emphasized during his introductory news conference this afternoon at City Hall.

Bennett says he will keep his post as chairman of the RI Convention Center Authority, calling it a benefit to his role as economic development director.

Here’s part of the official release:

Bennett will work to fulfill the Mayor’s vision for economic development and lead efforts to support existing businesses, attract new businesses and create jobs. In this capacity, Bennett will oversee the new Department of Economic Development, which includes the departments of Planning and Development, Inspections and Standards, and Arts, Culture + Tourism and the Workforce Development Board. His annual salary will be $150,000.

“I am very pleased that Jim Bennett has agreed to lead my administration’s economic development effort. Jim is a remarkably talented individual with a long track record of success and has extensive experience working with businesses in Providence and across the state of Rhode Island,” said Mayor Taveras. “Appointing a cabinet-level Economic Development Director was the number-one recommendation of my Economic Development Transition Committee. This group of distinguished business and civic leaders unanimously agreed that this post was essential to supporting businesses and creating jobs in Providence.”

Bennett served as chairman of the Rhode Island Convention Center from 1995 to 2001 and was reappointed to the post by Governor Lincoln Chafee again in June 2011.  His leadership of the board has been credited with the Convention Center’s successful efforts to market Providence as a national convention destination and increase convention business and tourism in the Capital City.

He has created three startup companies, run large corporations and organizations with more than 800 employees, founded publicly traded companies and worked in the highest levels of state government. Bennett has a strong background and experience in finance and job creation. His financial background includes eight years on Wall Street, with a focus on municipal and corporate debt.

“I am honored to serve in Mayor Taveras’ administration and look forward to overseeing the City’s efforts to help businesses prosper, create well-paying jobs and put Providence residents back to work,” said Bennett.

Bennett was selected for the post following a comprehensive search lead by an eight member committee of business and civic leaders. The committee led a national search that attracted candidates from 23 states and one from overseas. The Search Committee recommended four finalists to Mayor Taveras for consideration.

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