As Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo spins Rhode Island’s economic numbers and the news media touts her “wooing” of blockchain companies, an article from the Newport Daily News a couple of weeks ago hasn’t gotten much attention:
Hodges Badge Co. Inc. has made the “difficult decision” to close its Portsmouth plant this November and consolidate production at its Washington, Missouri, facility, according to a company statement.
“Hodges Badge Company Inc. is a 98-year-old family-owned company and we consider each one of our employees as part of our extended family,” according to the statement attributed to Rick Hodges, the company president and CEO. “We greatly appreciate being part of the Portsmouth community and are truly grateful to all the employees who contributed to our success over the past several decades. This is a necessary and critical economic decision that we do not take lightly, and we will be working with each of our employees to provide compensation packages and on-site outplacement services.”
The facility in Portsmouth opened in 1974 and employs around 92 people. Rhode Island just won’t allow the company to justify keeping those jobs here.
To be sure, that’s not only a tax and regulation issue. For Hodges Badge, energy played a big role, too:
Despite other business reforms aimed at reducing electricity costs, the plant still consumed 451,000 kilowatts of power for all of 2008 at a cost of $91,000, according to a Daily News article in July 2009. That was twice as much as the company paid to power its Missouri plant.Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.
“I live here and I love it here, but how long can you realistically sustain that?” Rick Hodges said at that time.
Imagine how the current political landscape looks from that perspective. The governor is touting more crony wind deals; NIMBYism is hindering an effort to increase power production in the state; and schemes to make energy more expensive through carbon taxing are a regular feature of every legislative session and may explode into law any year.
Rick Hodges was vocally against the toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge, and it can’t have been lost on him that tolls are proliferating in the state and could return at any time. Add in the recent mandatory-sick-leave law and the push for extremely radical “equal pay” legislation. At some point, business owners must tire of always feeling vulnerable. Any given legislative session could be the end of their operations for some money grab or progressive identity politics impulse.