The making of a deal with 38 Studios: how’d we get here?
In November 2010, the Providence Journal published a detailed story on the making of the State of Rhode Island’s deal with 38 Studios. Paul Grimaldi and Andy Smith’s story — which isn’t behind the ProJo’s pay wall — bears re-reading in light of the company’s current uncertainty.
First, here’s a link to the bill that created the state’s $125 million “Job Creation Guaranty Program.” According to the legislation, it was introduced by former House Finance chairman Steven Costantino, his successor, Helio Melo, and Jon Brien.
Back to the ProJo story. Bullet points:
— Things were set in motion after former governor Don Carcieri encouraged Schilling to move 38 Studios to Providence following a March 2010 fundraiser at Schilling’s home in Medfield, Massachusetts.
— EDC director Keith Stokes met Schilling for the first time in March 2010. The meeting, attended by House Speaker Gordon Fox, was at the office of Providence lawyer Mike Corso, the owner of Tazza Cafe and a force in the creation of a state historic preservation investment tax credit.
— State officials defended secrecy about talks with Schilling by expressing concern that another location would outbid RI. “But Business development officials in places where Schilling said he considered moving the company — Louisiana and Canada — said 38 Studios made no formal contacts with their government economic agencies and that they had never heard of the company until being contacted by the Journal.”
— A company hired by Stokes to analyze the prospects for 38 Studios found the company’s yet to be released multi-player game “will have little wiggle room upon release — this is analogous to an ‘all in’ hand in poker.”
— “Members of the House and Senate finance committees told The Journal they did not know when they voted on the Job Creation Guaranty Program that Schilling’s company would benefit from the bill’s passage.”
— Then-House Minority Leader Robert Watson was the only vote against the program. He said it was “too fast, too loose and a scandal waiting to happen …”
— Carcieri told the Journal he was confident the state would come out ahead as 38 Studios grew to anchor a new industry in Providence. “There is only a risk if everything goes wrong,” Carcieri told the paper.