The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation acquires and develops real and personal property and provides financing to others. It provides, promotes and encourages the preservation, expansion and sound development of new and existing industry, business, commerce, agriculture, tourism and recreational facilities. The agency’s statutory authority exists in Title 42, Chapter 64 of the Rhode Island General Laws.
Prior to its name change in 1995 (Public Law Chapter 370, art 12, § 7.) the agency was known as the Department of Economic Development (1974 Public Law Chapter 100). Within that agency was the Economic Development Council whose purpose was to investigate and study the economic conditions of the state and the factors affecting it, such as the industrial structure, the labor force, the number of unemployed, the population and its age and geographic distribution, shifts in the defense program, technological and scientific developments, financial problems of the state and municipalities, and sensitivity of the state economy to domestic and foreign developments.
A division of the Department was the Division of Tourism and Promotion (now the Division of Tourism) whose purpose was to work with tourism and promotion agencies around the state in promoting the state as a tourist destination. The agency was authorized to make grants to recognized tourist promotion agencies, to assist in the financing of their operational costs for the purpose of making studies, surveys and investigations and in planning and carrying out of their promotional programs and projects.