WILMINGTON, Del. (WPRI) — Rhode Islanders may have heard the story of how Gov. Gina Raimondo’s family struggled after her father’s factory job of 28 years was taken from him as Bulova Watches shipped their manufacturing overseas.
On Friday, she retold that tale, this time on a national stage as she was formally announced as President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for commerce secretary.
Raimondo said she made it her mission to create jobs after her father lost his, and now she’ll be looking to apply that to a country still reeling from an economic crisis.
Raimondo touted how she transformed Rhode Island from a state that consistently had the worst unemployment rate in the nation, to one that had it’s lowest jobless rate in three decades.
“We did that by bringing together our workers and businesses. Working together, coming together in common cause,” she said. “We invested in our people, in their skills, their opportunities and their dreams.”
“We helped new businesses launch and we sparked others to hire and grow responsibly,” Raimondo continued. “That’s the same vision, the same faith in American workers, in American entrepreneurs, that I see in the Build Back Better agenda.”
Raimondo vowed to rebuild American manufacturing by bringing back jobs from overseas.
It’s that experience in job growth that made Raimondo the right pick for commerce secretary, Biden said, calling her “one of the most effective, forward-thinking governors in the United States of America.”
He also touted some of Raimondo’s accomplishments like creating a loan program to help minority- and women-owned businesses and another program to connect Rhode Islanders with training and good-paying jobs.
“She knows what her fellow governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, are dealing with on the front lines of the pandemic and economic crisis they’re facing, and how we can all partner together as one nation to contain COVID-19 to Build Back Better,” he said.
Raimondo’s nomination still requires Senate confirmation.
While her appointment was met with praise from a number of local and national leaders, others were much more critical. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) released a statement Friday saying she failed Rhode Island’s business owners and her nomination “raises an alarm for entrepreneurs and business owners around the country.”
“Raimondo’s track record of failure on jobs and the economy is as lengthy as a CVS receipt and one worthy of scrutiny,” RGA deputy communications director Mike Demkiw wrote. “Her policies contributed to making Rhode Island the worst place in America for business, a sad distinction for somebody who wants to head the federal agency tasked with representing American businesses and promoting economic growth.
With Raimondo’s departure, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee is set to take the helm in Rhode Island. He released a statement Friday saying he and Raimondo discussed “the importance of a smooth transition,” and he plans to meet with the governor’s team this weekend.
Biden on Friday also introduced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for labor secretary and tapped small-business advocate Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration.