To help draw business, a state looks back to its 1636 roots

Tax credits. Lower cost of living. Restaurants and beaches. And don’t forget Roger Williams and his experiment in protecting everyone’s liberty of conscience.

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

Rhode Island started out as a refuge for dissidents experimenting with revolutionary ideas that formed the backbone of U.S. democracy. Now, the tiny state is invoking its roots to draw and retain educated young people searching for a community that matches their ideals.

“Young people want to live in a place that’s tolerant and diverse and inclusive,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said during an interview at the Roger Williams National Memorial , which commemorates the minister and his advocacy for individual freedom. “This is part of who we are. It’s not a fad or something temporary. It’s ingrained in who we are as Rhode Islanders.”

The Democratic governor views those principles through the lens of economic development. When PayPal announced it was halting plans to open a North Carolina branch because of that state’s law blocking transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice, she called up the San Jose, California-based company and asked it to move to Rhode Island instead. Her appeal included a reference to the founding ideas of Williams’ colony.

Source: bigstory.ap.org

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