Five companies that Gov. Lincoln Chafee met with while in Europe in April said Thursday that they are looking to establish operations in Rhode Island.
"We have to look over our borders to grow this economy," Chafee said at a Statehouse event where he, Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo and members of the state's congressional delegation announced the companies' plans.
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The political leaders welcomed the businesses and offered their assistance. Raimondo said she will make sure the companies have access to streamlined regulations, skilled employees, modern infrastructure and great choices for office locations.
"If you're successful, Rhode Islanders are employed and Rhode Island is successful," she told them.
Luca Calenda, who co-founded the Italian restaurant franchise Galivm, said he wants to open his first North American restaurant in Providence by the end of 2015. He said he may open others; he thinks the Rhode Island market could support five of his restaurants.
Peter Monaghan, who co-founded the Irish furniture maker Monaghan Brothers, said he is scouting Rhode Island locations for a small showroom. When business is strong enough, Monaghan said, he wants to set up a factory in Rhode Island. He called the state a "perfect doorway" to the U.S. market.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said businesses like Rhode Island because of its airport and ports.
The incoming businesses will create jobs in Rhode Island, but Chafee couldn't say how many.
Calenda said his restaurants employ about 20 people each. Other executives said the number of employees they hire will depend, in part, on the size of the sites they select.
An Irish prepared foods maker, Greencore Group, announced earlier this year that it would build a new sandwich factory at the Quonset Business Park. That facility is expected to open shortly, and the company plans to post 400 job openings, Commerce Corp. Executive Director Marcel Valois said.
Chafee went to Italy and Ireland in April for economic development meetings. Three of the five companies are headquartered in Italy, including Galivm. The global supply chain specialist Euranet says it will open a Providence office in early 2015. The design consulting firm Reios plans to establish a Rhode Island manufacturing facility for lighting systems.
The English encryption technology company Score also plans to set up a Rhode Island office.