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Schilling's company gives RI bad $1.1M check

Associated Press Published: May 17, 2012

Chafee has asked Colin Kane, a real estate developer who is chairman of a commission that is overseeing redevelopment of a key parcel in downtown Providence, to replace Stokes on an interim basis. Negotiations are ongoing over compensation, Chafee said.

Kane did not immediately respond to a message left for comment.

Stokes said the legislation that allowed the Economic Development Corp. to back up to $125 million in loans was not intended for a single company and that other firms have benefited from the program. Since Chafee took office, the board has adopted a new policy that caps the amount that any company can receive in loan guarantees at $10 million.

After the loan guarantee was approved in 2010, Stokes called it a calculated risk "well worth taking." He said the board performed months of due diligence in analyzing the video game sector and 38 Studios and crafted an agreement that went "to great lengths to safeguard taxpayers and ensure economic performance."

Stokes was appointed head of the Economic Development Corp. by Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri in 2010 after serving 15 years as executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. Stokes also served on the Economic Development Corp. board for 16 years, and he said he was involved in every major development project over that time.

Chafee kept Stokes on when he took office last year despite misgivings about the loan guarantee for 38 Studios. Chafee, an independent, was a vocal critic of the guarantee, saying on the campaign trail he thought it was "one of the biggest risks I've ever seen."

In a statement, House Speaker Gordon Fox called Stokes a "tireless advocate" for Rhode Island's economy and a man of "great vision" and courage. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said Stokes' resignation leaves a void that will be hard to fill.

Neither legislator mentioned 38 Studios.

Leonard Lardaro, an economics professor at the University of Rhode Island, called Stokes' resignation "ridiculous," saying he is being held responsible for the mistakes of political leaders like Carcieri, who pushed for the deal with 38 Studios.

"He is absolutely first-rate," Lardaro said of Stokes. "We can't afford to lose really good people like that. We're not going to get anyone better."

Carcieri has not returned a message left for comment. No one answered the door at his North Kingstown home on Thursday.


Associated Press writer Laura Crimaldi contributed to this report.