This week???s video address was filmed at UNFI???s Honest Green Market. UNFI is expanding in Rhode Island and hiring 150 new employees.
The company has already created roughly 100 jobs, including many that provide a good, family wage but don???t require a four-year college degree. UNFI has had a presence in Rhode Island for decades, and they???re expanding here because of help from our Commerce programs. For years, Massachusetts, New York and other states used programs like the ones we now have, and their economies took off. Every company that moves here or expands here is creating an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to earn a good living.
Watch the Governor???s full video here.
I spend a lot of time talking about jobs and economic growth. Our unemployment rate was the highest in America just a few years ago in 2014. But now, it???s been at or below the national average since January. I talk about the thousands of construction workers who are back on the job because of our RhodeWorks and our Commerce programs. And how our job training programs are helping thousands of people get jobs at Electric Boat.
Before 2015, Rhode Island wasn???t doing any of this. We weren???t investing in our people and job training. We didn???t have the tools to compete with Massachusetts or New York for new business. The status quo was chocking our economy. So, we got to work and took action.
Our Commerce programs are modeled on successful programs from Massachusetts and other states, and they protect taxpayers. Companies don???t get a penny of any incentive until they create jobs and their employees start paying taxes. After just a year and half, these programs have helped us attract and retain 18 companies that will support nearly 2,000 jobs. One of those companies is right here???UNFI. Because of our Commerce programs, this established Rhode Island company has already hired about 100 new employees to fill good-paying jobs, some of which don???t require a four-year college degree.
Next week, I???m looking forward to visiting the Rhode Island Mushroom Company in West Kingston. They???re one of two dozen companies to participate in our small business loan program, which is the first program of its kind in at least a generation in Rhode Island. And yesterday, I met with this year???s Wavemaker Fellows. These are recent college graduates who could live or work anywhere, but because of the student loan relief we???re offering, they???ve chosen to stay in Rhode Island.
Every company that moves here and every business that expands here because of our programs is creating an opportunity for Rhode Islanders who were stuck on the sidelines in past years. For those Rhode Islanders and their families, these programs offer a shot to earn a good living.
We can???t afford to take our foot off the gas. We???ve made progress in recent years, and we???re seeing results. But middle class families are still worried about their future, so we cannot stop working to strengthen our economy until everyone has the security and stability they deserve.
Thank you. Have a great weekend and happy Halloween.