• In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, a statue of Roger Williams over looks the skyline, in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Roger Williams founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, a statue of Roger Williams over looks the skyline, in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Roger ... Williams founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, a statue of Roger Williams overlooks the skyline in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Williams founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, a statue of Roger Williams overlooks the skyline in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Williams ... founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, Linda Hartnell, front left, and Gillian Durham, both of Canada, examine a photo while visiting a statue of Roger Williams, background, that overlooks the skyline in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Williams founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, photo, Linda Hartnell, front left, and Gillian Durham, both of Canada, examine a photo while visiting a statue of Roger Williams, background, that overlooks the skyline in Providence, R.I. One of Colonial America's ... most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago. Williams founded Providence as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now state leaders are harkening back to his legacy as a draw for businesses and young people looking for a place that matches their ideals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (The Associated Press)

To help draw business, a state looks back to 1636

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One of Colonial America's most important freethinkers has a new role as a marketing tool for the place he settled 380 years ago.

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Roger Williams founded Providence, Rhode Island, as a refuge for like-minded dissenters banished from Puritan Massachusetts. His 17th-century experiment in protecting personal freedom and separating church and state was a precursor to American democracy.

Now Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (ray-MAHN'-doh) is invoking that legacy to boost the state's economy and attract new business.

The Democratic governor has invited PayPal to open a Rhode Island branch office after the tech company halted its North Carolina expansion plans because of that state's law blocking transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

Raimondo says young people are drawn to places with a tradition of inclusivity and acceptance.