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RI gov's economic development nominee withdraws

Erika Niedowski, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A longtime Rhode Island economic development official picked to lead the agency that approved a disastrous loan guarantee for Curt Schilling's now-defunct video game company asked Thursday to be withdrawn from consideration.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said William Parsons, his nominee for executive director of the Economic Development Corp., cited a "recent serious health issue" that Parsons felt precluded him from serving.

"I have determined that my recent health concerns will not allow me to adequately serve in this demanding role," Parsons wrote in his letter to Chafee. "In the interest of stability and continuity for the RIEDC, I feel it is important for the next executive director to be in a position to make an extended commitment to the agency."

Parsons, who has spent 37 years working on economic development issues for the state, will remain at the quasi-public agency as a managing director of community and business development.

Parsons has overseen the agency's day-to-day operations since May, when then-executive director Keith Stokes resigned after facing questions about the $75 million loan guarantee to Schilling's 38 Studios. The company filed for bankruptcy in June.

The state is suing Schilling, other 38 Studios executives and some former economic development officials, saying the agency's board was misled into approving the guarantee.

Whoever leads the agency must be approved by the state Senate.

Parsons said he was proud to have helped with the Economic Development Corp.'s "ongoing turnaround" in the months following the 38 Studios debacle. Several members of the board resigned in the wake of the scandal, and Chafee brought in Paul McGreevy, the head of the state Department of Business and Regular, as a special adviser to help stabilize the agency.

Christine Hunsinger, a spokeswoman for Chafee, said it was too early to discuss other potential nominees for executive director.

"It happened very quickly," she said Thursday. "The governor will evaluate the situation."


Associated Press writer David Klepper contributed to this report.