Rhode Island business news: April 2022
“Our first-generation HDM instruments have been in customers’ hands for over a year now and have been very well-received,” said Dr. Barrett Bready, the company’s founder and CEO. “We are excited to capitalize on the highly scalable nature of our high-speed, single-molecule, electronic detection to increase throughput and expand the application space.”
BlockFi, a cryptocurrency lender, to pay nearly $1 to RI in settlement
New Jersey-based BlockFi Lending LLC was ordered to pay nearly $1 million to Rhode Island for promising high-return investments on unregistered cryptocurrency loans. The payment was part of a $100 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the North American Securities Administrators Association after the SEC brought charges against the financial services company in February. The SEC said in its filings that BlockFi had violated state and federal investment laws when it sold cryptocurrency-backed loans to more than 400,000 retail investors nationwide, including more than 1,500 Rhode Island residents.
“This is the first case of its kind with respect to crypto lending platforms,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said. “[This settlement] further demonstrates the Commission’s willingness to work with crypto platforms to determine how they can come into compliance with those laws.”
April 14, 2022
R.I. jobs report shows unemployment rate has fallen below national average
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in March, which was below the national average of 3.6 percent, according to data released in the monthly jobs report by the state’s Department of Labor and Training on Thursday.
“Today’s jobs report is good news and continues to show that Rhode Island has momentum coming out of the pandemic,” said Governor Dan McKee. “For the first time in over a year, the state’s unemployment rate is below the national average, but more importantly, it is now below pre-pandemic levels.
Rhode Island’s momentum continues to build!
Our unemployment rate is down to 3.4%.📉
That means: For the first time since Feb. 2021, the state’s unemployment rate has fallen BELOW the U.S. rate (3.6%).
PLUS, jobs are up 400 over the month. ⬆️
Let’s keep going. pic.twitter.com/3pzOiDc0xJ
— Governor Dan McKee (@GovDanMcKee) April 14, 2022
The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents who were available for and actively seeking employment was 19,600, down 2,700 from February. The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders decreased by 14,400 over the last year. Since April 2020, the height of pandemic-related shutdowns, the number of unemployed residents is down 80,700. The economy has recovered about 85 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic, according to the state.
“Since day one of my Administration, we have been laser-focused on getting shots in arms, keeping kids in school and supporting small businesses so they could weather the pandemic,” said McKee. “That strategy is paying off, but we can’t take our foot off the gas. That’s why I’ve proposed a budget that bolsters our economic recovery, makes it easier to do business in Rhode Island and also invests in our state’s future.”
April 11, 2022
R.I. attorney general announces $17m in settlements with major oil, gas companies
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office announced that he resolved a lawsuit against three of the largest refiners of gasoline where the companies will be forced to pay $15 million. The state filed a lawsuit in September 2016 alleging that Shell, Sunoco, and CITGO caused pollution in the state’s soil and groundwater with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (also known as MTBE).
The funds generated from the settlement will be dedicated to emergency response and ongoing MTBE contamination remediation efforts by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Remaining gas refinery defendants in the lawsuit include British Petroleum (BP), Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Valero, and Irving. Litigation against these companies remains ongoing.
In addition to the settlement with Shell, Sunoco, and CITGO, Neronha also announced separate settlements with four other entities for a combined amount of $2,130,000. Those companies include Hess, Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Marathon, and Conoco.
“MBTE contamination of public water supplies poses a significant public health and safety risk, one which oil and gas companies knew about well before the public did,” said Neronha. “The work to remediate contaminated water supplies continues, and the funds recovered to date, including today, will be exclusively dedicated to doing that work. In the meantime, this office remains strongly committed to ensuring that the remaining oil and gas defendants are held responsible for the damage they have caused to the people of Rhode Island and the environment.”
April 8, 2022
Providence College raises record $2.85m on ‘Friars Give’ day
Providence College raised a record $2.859 million for fundraising initiative “Friars Give” day from approximately 2,954 donors, which was $700,000 more than what the Dominican Friar college raised last year. An anonymous donor gave a $1 matching gift to the college this year after the first million was raised.
College officials said the funds raised from Friars Give will be largely used for scholarships.
April 7, 2022
Finalists named to develop new state labs in Innovation District
The Rhode Island Department of Health could soon have a new research laboratory located at Parcel 25 of the I-195 Redevelopment District. The state Commerce department issued a request for proposals Nov. 1, 2021, looking for organizations to develop and build the lab for the department. On Thursday, the state released the names of the four finalists, which include Wexford Science & Technology; Related Beal LLC, Boston Andes Capital LLC; Ancora, GRE; and Pebb Capital.
The four finalists will have to provide additional information to the state by May 5 before a developer is named sometime this summer.
April 4, 2022
Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers purchases two Conn.-based publications
The Chronicle in Willimantic and The New Britain Herald/Bristol Press are now owned by Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers. The small newspaper chain, which recently acquired the Block Island Times, purchased the two publications from Central Connecticut Communications Monday for an undisclosed amount.
Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers was founded in 2007 and operates The Westerly Sun, The Call of Woonsocket, The Kent County Daily Times, Independent and Southern Rhode Island Newspapers, and The Times of Pawtucket.
R.I. receives $15m to make homes more energy efficient
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Low-income and older Rhode Island residents are getting nearly $15 million in federal funding to help them save money by making their homes more energy efficient.
The Rhode Island Department of Human Services will use the funding to partner with community action agencies throughout the state to provide weatherization services to eligible households, according to a statement this week from U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
Weatherization assistance includes air sealing, attic and wall insulation, heating system upgrades, energy audits, and window and roof repair and replacement.
The program also helps with installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“Keeping your house warm in the winter isn’t easy or cheap in Rhode Island — especially with rising fuel prices,” Reed said in a statement. “That’s why these federal funds are so important.”
The program also creates jobs for energy experts and contractors, he said.
Every dollar invested by the Weatherization Assistance Program generates $4.50 in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation, according to the U.S Department of Energy.
401Gives Day raises nearly $3.12 million
Rhode Islanders raised more than $3.1 million for 507 different organizations for the 401Gives Day, an annual push to donate to various nonprofits on April 1. The fundraising kicked off at 6 a.m. on April 1, and 401Gives saw sizable growth in every category in its third year. Since its debut, 401Gives, which is powered by the United Way of Rhode Island, has now raised more than $6.6 million for Rhode Island nonprofits.
This year’s top fundraiser was Foster Forward, garnering more than $209,500. Lisa Guillette, the executive director of Foster Forward, said she’s planning to use the funds to purchase another multi-unit home for young people aging out of foster care.
More Rhode Island business news.
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.