Raimondo chooses education official as nominee for Rhode Island's 1st commerce secretary

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo announced Tuesday she will nominate Connecticut's education commissioner to be Rhode Island's first commerce secretary.

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Raimondo said Stefan Pryor has the experience and drive to help her lead the state's comeback, and she will ask the Senate to confirm him. Lawmakers created the Cabinet-level position last year to lead a new executive office of commerce to oversee the state's economic development efforts.

Pryor announced before November's election that he wouldn't serve a second term as commissioner. He oversaw Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's education reforms and came under fire from teachers and parents for the state's efforts to impose Common Core, new education standards and guidelines, among other changes.

Malloy said he worked with Pryor to invest in Connecticut's public education system and give more resources to low-performing schools, resulting in graduation rate gains and a narrowing achievement gap. Malloy said he has the "utmost confidence" that Pryor brings the necessary skill and determination to boost Rhode Island's economy.

Pryor was deputy mayor for economic development in Newark, New Jersey, under Mayor Cory Booker from 2006 to 2011. Booker, now a U.S. senator, said Tuesday that Newark saw billions of dollars of new development under Pryor's leadership. Booker credited Pryor with helping to "change the trajectory of the city."

"I can think of no better candidate to serve as Rhode Island's first secretary of commerce," he said in a statement.

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Pryor also worked on economic revitalization after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Pryor said Raimondo is focused on attracting and growing businesses in Rhode Island.

"I will work every day with that goal in mind and will aim to deliver results for Rhode Island," he said in a statement.