- Associated Press - Thursday, July 15, 2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island on Thursday moved forward with plans to lure to the state a gaming company founded by ex-baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, dangling the incentive of a $75 million loan guarantee to move the business out of neighboring Massachusetts.

The board of the state Economic Development Corporation met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss terms and conditions of its deal with 38 Studios, a gaming company located in Maynard, Mass. Those conditions were kept confidential and not disclosed after the meeting, but a lawyer for the board said the members discussed the potential risk involved.

The company _ named after Schilling’s old uniform number _ has said it could offer 400 to 450 jobs by the end of 2012, with an average salary of around $70,000.

“38 Studios pursued Rhode Island,” EDC executive director Keith Stokes told reporters after the meeting. “They came to Rhode Island because they had an interest in our capital city. They came to Rhode Island because of our growing technology base industries.”

The next EDC meeting is scheduled for July 26.

A company representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday, and a consultant to the business said he was not authorized to speak.

Schilling, a likely future Hall of Famer who won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, founded the company in late 2006. It bills itself as an entertainment company involved in developing online and console video games, toys and film. It has not brought any products to market but advertises two games as in development.

Stokes acknowledged that the investment was risky for the state but no more so than having a double-digit unemployment rate _ which Rhode Island has had for months _ and a flailing economy. He said the company offered the type of jobs that Rhode Island needs, but he would not say how the state would be affected if the business fails after moving there.

He defended the decision to authorize such a large loan guarantee _ the maximum under state law is $125 million _ to a company run by a hugely wealthy athlete.

“This is a small business. There are many, many small businesses in this state that are operated by … millionaires,” Stokes said.