Ms. Raimondo, a moderate Democrat with a background in the financial industry, has served as governor since 2015. She is seen as a relatively traditional choice for commerce secretary, a post that oversees not only relations with the business community but also technology regulation, weather monitoring and the gathering of economic data, among other duties.
As governor of Rhode Island, Ms. Raimondo introduced training programs, cut taxes, and eliminated regulations and offered new loans to support businesses. She clashed with unions but ultimately found compromise as she overhauled the state pension plan.
Before running for office, she was a founding employee at the investment firm Village Ventures, which was backed by Bain Capital, and co-founded a venture capital firm, Point Judith Capital. Ms. Raimondo, 49, has a law degree from Yale University and earned a doctorate from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes scholar.
The Commerce Department, which has nearly 50,000 employees, has used its vast power during the Trump administration to curtail the access of Chinese companies, including the telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, to the American market and technology. It also carried out investigations into the effect of imported steel and aluminum on the domestic industry, which led to Mr. Trump to impose global metal tariffs on European and other countries.
The department’s responsibilities also include areas that are expected to be central to the Biden administration, such as economic promotion, making it a potentially powerful force in the type of industrial policy that is increasingly embraced in Washington. The department promotes U.S. business abroad through the Foreign Commercial Service, and strategically important businesses at home by providing grants through the Economic Development Administration.
The Commerce Department also contains the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is in charge of monitoring the weather and managing American fisheries, making it a potential player in Mr. Biden’s hopes to slow climate change.
Some progressive groups have protested Ms. Raimondo’s selection, arguing that the Biden administration should look to a populist Democrat instead. In an announcement on Wednesday, the Revolving Door Project and Demand Progress criticized Ms. Raimondo as a “corporate insider” who locked in liability protection for businesses but stripped funding from low-income areas of Rhode Island during the pandemic.