ProvChamber Joins Coalition to Promote Economic & Job Growth Through Trade

ProvChamber Joins Coalition to Promote Economic & Job Growth Through Trade 

Passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation in Congress a substantial victory for efforts to pursue a range of new trade agreements providing opportunities for businesses of all sizes and sectors to find new markets abroad

Due in large part to the efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of local and state chambers, including the ProvChamber, long sought Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation passed in the Senate yesterday by a vote of 60-38. Coupled with approval in the House last week, this legislation is now headed to President Obama’s desk for signature. This signifies a substantial victory for efforts to pursue a range of new trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and a Trade in Services Agreement, providing opportunities for businesses of all sizes and sectors to find new markets abroad.

This is critically important because economic growth and job creation depend on our ability to sell American goods and services to the 95% of the world’s customers living outside the U.S.

As we embark on helping to grow the manufacturing sector in Rhode Island, it is important to note that one in four manufacturing jobs in the U.S. depends on exports. In Rhode Island, trade plays just as an important role in our economy. Trade supports over 132,000 jobs in the state, and our exports of goods and services last year reached $4 billion. And trade is critically important to Rhode Island’s small businesses, nearly 1,600 of which are exporters.

The U.S. Chamber hailed the paasage of TPA authority and praised Republicans and Democrats for setting aside partisanship, prioritizing economic growth and job creation.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement today regarding final passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA):

“With the bipartisan approval of Trade Promotion Authority, the U.S. Congress has prioritized economic growth and job creation here at home. In doing so, our leaders in Washington proved they could tune out the populists and demagogues of the left and the right and take action on an important measure to put our economy back on track.

“The Obama administration and Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress deserve great credit for setting aside partisanship and working together to pass this bill. It should serve as a model for how important things can get done going forward.

“The business and agriculture community’s near universal support played an important role in the passage of TPA. Members of Congress heard from thousands of small businesses, major exporters with operations across the nation, and firms from every sector—including manufacturers, services providers, and agriculture.‎ On behalf of these millions of workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs, we’re pleased our voice was heard.”

TPA is a longstanding and proven partnership between Congress and the President that enables Congress to set negotiating objectives and requires the executive branch to consult extensively with Congress during negotiations. Trade agreements help to level the playing field for American businesses who often face foreign tariffs that often reach double digits.

Let Your Voice Be Heard and Tell Us What You Think
Let Your Voice Be Heard & Tell Us What You Think

Learn more and tell the ProvChamber what you think about Governor Raimondo's newly revised and restructured plan to finance repairs and improvements to Rhode Island's bridges and transportation system. The Senate Finance Committee is taking up the RhodeWorks plan, which would toll certain commercial trucks coming through the state, as a stand-alone bill.


ADVOCACY: Pro-business Budget Puts RI on Course for Economic and Job Growth

Statement from Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce: 

Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Paiva Weed have come together to craft a pro-business budget to put Rhode Island on course for economic and job growth. The budget that was approved by the General Assembly sends a clear message that the state is serious about bolstering our competitiveness, creating jobs and expanding opportunities for Rhode Islanders. State leaders have shown a strong commitment to move Rhode Island forward. The bold package of economic development incentives included in the budget gives the new Commerce Corporation greater ability to help local businesses thrive and to attract companies interested in relocating to the state.

The budget contains many of the priorities the ProvChamber has supported and advocated for, including:

- Rebuild RI Tax Credit to provide a tax credit for qualifying real estate development projects;

- Stay Invested in RI Wavemaker Fellowship to establish tax credits for graduates working for Rhode Island businesses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math  (STEM) fields;

- Making it easier for new and small companies to do business by lowering the corporate minimum tax to $450;

- $350,000 for Polaris MEP, a statewide non-profit organization that provides competitive manufacturing business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry; allows Polaris to obtain full federal funding; 

- A state-based health benefits exchange with significantly reduced costs and a funding mechanism consistent with what a surcharge would be if Healthsource RI were run by the federal government;

- Repeal of the commercial sales tax on businesses for electricity, natural gas and heating fuels; 

- Rep. Joe Shekarchi’s New Qualified Jobs Incentive proposal to provide tax credits for job creation from $2,500 to $7,500; business eligible if increasing workforce by 10 jobs or 10%, whichever is greater; tax credits capped at the amount of state income tax revenue generated by each job;

- Innovation initiative to provide vouchers for small businesses to access technical assistance from local colleges and universities;

- Increase in the maximum amount of matching grants to $150,000 for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants to encourage technology-based businesses to explore ideas and profit from their commercialization;

- Restructuring of tourism funding to significantly increase investment to $4.6 million for a statewide tourism promotion campaign; 

- I-195 Redevelopment Project Fund to provide capital investment for anchor institutions, financing for public infrastructure and the ability to fill project financing gaps;

- Small Business Assistance Program to provide small business loans for employers with less than 200 employees, including micro loans from $2,000 to $25,000;

- Tax Stabilization Incentive to reimburse up to 10% of foregone tax revenue as a result of a municipality entering into a tax stabilization agreement with a qualifying project creating at least 50 jobs and with $10 million of capital investment;

- Anchor Institution Grants for existing Rhode Island businesses that encourage out-of-state businesses to relocate to the state; and

- Reforms to reduce Medicaid costs for the state to help address Rhode Island’s structural budget deficit, while lessening the impact on hospitals and nursing homes.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is the advocate for growing and protecting the business community in Rhode Island.

More than 75 RI Businesses Honored at 21st Annual Worksite Health Awards

More than 75 RI Businesses Honored at 21st Annual Worksite Health Awards

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce celebrate local efforts to support healthy employees 

PROVIDENCE, RI  (June 4, 2015) – In recognition of Rhode Island employers’ successful efforts to advance employee wellness and build a healthier Rhode Island, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce (the “Chamber”) distributed Worksite Health Awards to 78 local businesses. More than 400 business leaders from around the state attended the 21st Annual Worksite Health Awards ceremony to celebrate the honorees efforts, which benefit thousands of Rhode Island employees. 

“For more than two decades, we have proudly recognized the commitment of Rhode Island businesses that invest in the health of their workforce,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president & CEO of BCBSRI. “The collective impact of these programs extends beyond the worksite—these programs can lead to healthier families, neighborhoods, and whole communities. By highlighting the best practices of these 78 companies, we hope to encourage other businesses to build their own worksite wellness plans to help create a healthier, more productive Rhode Island.”

"When the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce partnered with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to sponsor these awards more than 20 years ago, we knew there was a need to address the issue of wellness in the workplace," said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "Since then, the evidence has continued to support the need for these programs with proven benefits like reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and improved employee health and morale. We are delighted to recognize this year's winning employers-and their employees-who are addressing these health issues head on."

All Rhode Island businesses are eligible to apply for Worksite Health Awards, which are awarded annually. Winners are selected based on the scale and impact of their health and wellness programs and health-oriented workplace policies after submitting proof of these programs. Some of the most impactful worksite offerings included smoking cessation programming, flu immunization clinics, blood pressure screenings and walking programs. 

See the complete list of Worksite Health Awards honorees




ADVOCACY: Transportation System, Providence Budget, International Trade

Business Advocacy: Transportation System, Providence Budget, International Trade

As the advocate for growing and protecting the business community in Rhode Island, the ProvChamber has submitted letters this week referencing timely municipal, state and federal issues critical to the local business community.

View our activities regarding the state's proposed RhodeWorks plan to fund transportation infrastructure upgrades, commercial tax rates in the City of Providence and expanding trade opportunities for Rhode Island businesses.

- RhodeWorks plan to improve bridges and roadways

- Freezing commercial tax rates in the City of Providence

- Renewal of federal Trade Promotion Authority

Reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import bank

RI Leaders Announce $4.8 Billion Plan to Invest in State’s Transportation Infrastructure

Press Release from May 27, 2015:

Raimondo, Mattiello, Paiva Weed Announce 10-year RhodeWorks Plan to Invest in State's Highways and Other Transportation Infrastructure

PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed announced RhodeWorks, a bold action plan to address our state's crumbling transportation infrastructure.

"While deteriorating roads and bridges is a problem nationwide, Rhode Island ranks last for the overall condition of our bridges," said Raimondo. "The longer we wait to address this problem the more expensive it will become to fix. Our RhodeWorks proposal will not only help keep Rhode Islanders safe, but it will also grow our economy, create jobs, save over $1 billion in projected future costs, and make the state a more attractive place for businesses to invest."

Read more for details:

Read a fact sheet on RhodeWorks from the Governor’s office

Statement from the Greater Providence Chamber:

"The shabby condition of our highways, roads and bridges is a serious impediment to economic growth that must be addressed quickly and completely," said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "To put the urgency in context, 'highway accessibility' ranked as the most important factor to U.S. corporate site selectors in a comprehensive survey by Area Development magazine, up from its second place ranking in the previous year's study. They note that the availability and condition of roads to, from, around, and away from America's manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, industrial parks, and office complexes has become a more important economic development issue for the nation. States and communities that make the investments in increasing road infrastructure, and in existing infrastructure, will be in better shape for economic development. Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Paiva Weed are taking on another important mega-issue. The Chamber will provide relevant feedback from the business community on specific costs, impact and implementation."

Read the Chamber's June 2nd letter to the House Finance Committee

Tell the Chamber what you think about the state's recently announced RhodeWorks plan to finance repairs and improvements to Rhode Island's bridges and transportation system.

Take our quick survey:


Providence Journal:



Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Speaks to Greater Providence Chamber

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Speaks to Greater Providence Chamber at Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon

Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen delivered a speech about the future of the U.S. economy to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. She delivered her remarks to nearly 800 business and civic leaders at the Chamber's annual Economic Outlook Luncheon held at the Rhode Island Convention Center on May 22.

“We are honored that Chair Yellen took the time to visit Rhode Island and discuss issues vital to our local businesses and community at the Chamber’s annual Economic Outlook Luncheon. As one of the world’s most respected economists and leading policymakers, the opportunity to hear directly from Chair Yellen about her insights on the economy, jobs, and business was an important moment for the state,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Additional speakers included: Governor Gina Raimondo; Peter Andruszkiewicz, Chairman of the Greater Providence Chamber Board; Chamber President Laurie White; and Dr. David Dooley, President of the University of Rhode Island.

Also in attendance were many Rhode Island government leaders, including: 

- Governor Gina Raimondo
- Congressman Jim Langevin
- Congressman David Cicilline
- State Treasurer Seth Magaziner
- Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea
- Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello
- Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza
- Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor
- State Representative Joseph Shekarchi, Chair, House Committee on Labor

See the event pics!

Read the coverage below to learn what Chair Yellen said about Rhode Island and the outlook for the U.S. economy. 

Chair Yellen’s official remarks:

Providence Journal:

Providence Business News:,105992

ABC 6:

NBC 10:

Fox Providence:

WPRI 12:

The Wall Street Journal:

The New York Times:

Associated Press:





Bloomberg TV:;

Business Insider:


USA Today:

L.A. Times:

WBZ-AM (Radio):




James J. Skeffington, Chamber Board Member, Civic Leader and Friend to Many


It is with deep sadness that we share the loss of long-time Chamber Board member, irrepressible civic leader and friend to so many, James Skeffington. He was a consummate and tireless advocate for Rhode Island who left a positive and lasting mark on our community. Jim’s energy and passion were evident in his unwavering support for the Chamber’s work to help grow the local business community. His skillful leadership in many of the seminal economic development projects in the state over the past several decades exemplified his extraordinary sense of service and determined optimism about Rhode Island. Jim will be much missed but always remembered.  

- Laurie White, President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce


Governor Raimondo Discusses Jobs Plan with ProvChamber Members

Governor Raimondo Discusses Jobs Plan with ProvChamber Members

The Governor and members of her administration talked about their plans to grow Rhode Island's economy at a town hall style meeting hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce on May 14.

Joined by DLT Director Scott Jensen, DBR Director Macky McCleary, and Commerce RI COO Darin Early, Governor Raimondo focused on Medicaid reform, statewide tourism promotion, regulatory reform and business development incentives while taking questions from local business leaders.

From the Providence Journal:

Raimondo asks for business support on jobs plan

By Patrick Anderson
, Journal Staff Writer; May 14, 2015  

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Governor Raimondo urged a friendly crowd of Rhode Island business leaders Thursday morning to push the General Assembly to preserve her fiscal 2016 state budget proposals for job creation.

In her latest "jobs plan" rally with the corporate community, Raimondo emphasized the importance of her proposed Medicaid spending cuts, statewide tourism promotion campaign and development incentives in a packed event hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at the organization's downtown headquarters.

"My vision for the state is to cut where we can cut and invest the savings in job growth," Raimondo said. "The place in this budget where I am calling for radical change is Medicaid - a third of Rhode Island's state budget is Medicaid."


- Event pictures:

- Governor's jobs plan: 

RI Food Industry Innovators Exchange Ideas at The Garage

Rhode Island Food Industry Innovators Exchange Ideas at the Greater Providence Chamber's 2015 Garage

Many of RI's hottest food businesses shared their stories and experiences about how they are thriving and growing in this diverse industry cluster

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce featured a dynamic line-up of presenting businesses and organizations at The Garage event on May 12 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

“Our theme - ‘All Things Food’ - explored how businesses across a wide swath of industries can be part of Rhode Island’s vibrant food cluster,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

“Attendees spent an afternoon with us and gained a new and unexpected perspective. They walked away with fresh ideas on how businesses can profit by tapping into an economic cluster that’s actually growing here in Rhode Island. We all discovered where the pockets of opportunity are for businesses across all industry sectors, including: services, technology, finance, legal, manufacturing, health care, nonprofit, distribution, design, processing, hospitality and more. Participants also had the chance to network with high caliber business professionals who are working across industries to spark innovation," White said.

And did we mention the food? No confab on “All Things Food” in Rhode Island would be complete without great food for attendees to taste the best in local goodness. The Garage did not disappoint. After the learning sessions, attendees enjoyed complimentary hors d’oeuvres from top-shelf local purveyors

Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsors of the event. 

See the complete list of speakers, presenters and sponsors

Presenting businesses and organizations at The Garage: Read their stories

Learn what they said

See the pictures

Economy, Healthcare, Transportation, Cybersecurity Topics at Congressional Breakfast

Economy, Healthcare, Transportation, Cybersecurity Discussed at 2015 Congressional Breakfast

RI's Congressional delegation took questions from Chamber President Laurie White and Chamber members at annual breakfast.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce hosted a conversation on April 27 with members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation as they responded to questions regarding the many critical issues facing the business community today.

With some 500 business and civic leaders in attendance, the ProvChamber’s annual Congressional Breakfast covered a variety of topics including: the general state of the economy, federal highway transportation funding, the future growth of T.F. Green airport, the Affordable Care Act and state health benefit exchanges, support for Rhode Island manufactures and abusive litigation by patent trolls.

The following Chamber members posed questions to the Congressional leaders: 

  • Peter Andruszkiewicz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
  • Barbara Cottam, Rhode Island Market Executive, Citizens Bank
  • Dennis Keefe, President & CEO, Care New England Health System
  • Lloyd Albert, Senior Vice President, Public/Government Affairs & New Business Development, AAA Northeast

Citizens Bank was the Presenting Sponsor.

Find out what RI's Congressional leaders had to say:
Providence Journal: Cybersecurity, transportation policy and more discussed at Providence Chamber event 
Providence Business News: Legislators discuss Green Airport at congressional breakfast

WPRI 12: Biz, congressional forum considers jumpstarts to RI’s economy
WPRI 12: Providence Chamber Hosts Congressional Breakfast

See the event pics

Cox Hub: Greater Providence Chamber’s “The Garage” focuses on “All Things Food”

Blog post from Cox Hub: Greater Providence Chamber's "The Garage" focuses on "All Things Food"

It's no secret that Rhode Island and food are in love. And it is a love affair for the ages. Whether it's through planting and growing it or venturing out to a market or restaurant intending on purchasing and consuming it, food related industries comprise one of the Ocean State's economic bright spots.

The upcoming Garage event on May 12 features the food industry as a model of success. Many of the state's hottest food related businesses will be there to share ideas, experience and knowledge on how they are thriving and growing.


See the line-up of businesses and organizations presenting at The Garage

View the detailed schedule of events

Chamber & Labor Voice Support for Governor Raimondo’s Jobs Plan

Joint Op-Ed published in the Providence Journal - April 21, 2015

Michael F. Sabitoni and Laurie White: Raimondo's ideas would move R.I. forward

Gov. Gina Raimondo got it right in her inaugural address when she said we “must foster an environment where businesses want to add jobs and where we support our workers. If we do that, if we rebuild this economy, everything is possible. And if we don’t, nothing else will matter.”

A complex dynamic, simply communicated.

Nothing else will matter if we can’t wrestle the vestiges of a bygone era to the ground and catch the next wave of discovery and opportunity. As leaders representing the voices of business and labor, we know that vast swaths of Rhode Island’s citizenry want to see a big jolt of something new.

Today, we share our organizations’ strong support for the economic development themes outlined in Governor Raimondo’s budget proposal. 

Read more about why the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and the Chamber support the Governor's jobs plan. 

Chamber Announces Companies & Schedule for The Garage…All Things Food

Chamber Announces Companies and Schedule for The Garage...All Things Food...May 12

April 15, 2015 - The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has announced the line-up of presenting businesses and the schedule of events for The Garage on May 12 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

This year's theme - "All Things Food...…how every business can win as part of this thriving economic engine" - will feature some of the hottest Rhode Island companies succeeding and growing in the food industry.

Attendees will learn where the pockets of opportunity are for their businesses across all industry sectors, including: services, technology, finance, legal, manufacturing, health care, nonprofit, distribution, design, processing, hospitality and more.

They will walk away with fresh ideas on how to succeed by tapping into food-related industries that are actually growing. They will learn how to change the boundaries of their own business development and marketing strategy and see how leading business professionals are reinventing their own strategies to capture the attention of today’s discerning consumer. The Garage is also a chance to network with high caliber business professionals who are working across industries to spark innovation.

And did we mention the food? No confab on “All Things Food” in Rhode Island would be complete without great food for attendees to taste the best in local goodness.

The Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, New England’s leading community supported business plan competition, will also name their 2015 competition winners and award prizes valued at $200,000 at The Garage.

See the line-up of businesses and organizations presenting at The Garage

View the detailed schedule of events


Mayor Elorza, Laurie White & Other Leaders Launch “Buy Into Spring” Campaign

From GoLocalProv

Mayor Elorza Launches “Buy Into Spring” Campaign

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and local business leaders launched the campaign "Buy Into Spring" on April 13 to "encourage support of local businesses and welcome in the spring shopping season."

Mayor Elorza was joined by Martha Sheridan, the President of the Providence and Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau and Laurie White, the President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Find out more and learn about 25 ways to support small businesses in RI

RI Business Plan Competition Names 13 Semi-finalists

Rhode Island Business Plan Competition Names 13 Semi-finalists

PROVIDENCE – (April 13, 2015) – The Rhode Island Business Plan Competition today announced that it has named 13 semi-finalists in the 2015 competition from among 82 emerging and would-be entrepreneurs.

The competition will name winners and award prizes valued at $200,000 to all finalists and winners on May 12 at The Garage, a half-day business development conference hosted at the Rhode Island Convention Center by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

The semi-finalists have proposed businesses that address problems in the biotech, consumer, environmental, health care, information technology, retail, and software industries.

Competition Co-chair Anthony Mangiarelli, partner with the KLR accounting firm in Providence, said, “We appreciate the strong effort made by everyone who applied to this year’s Competition, and we strongly encourage those were not chosen as semi-finalists to continue, because success is often a matter of persevering.”

Find out more

RI Leaders Express Optimism About Economy & Jobs at Economic Outlook Breakfast

RI Leaders Express Optimism about Economy & Jobs at Annual Economic Outlook Breakfast 

More than 400 business and civic leaders share insights about the local economy at breakfast hosted by Santander Bank, N.A. and the ProvChamber

Santander Bank, N.A. and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Economic Outlook Breakfast on April 7.

In addition to an economic overview from Governor Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Mike Lee, Managing Director of Commercial Real Estate Banking at Santander Bank, N.A., the audience of over 400 business and civic leaders participated in an interactive, real-time business climate survey.

Also, a panel of business and government leaders offered their perspectives into key issues and challenges facing the Ocean State.

The panel discussion included: 

- Joseph Azrack, Chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission

- Scott Jensen, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training

- Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce                        

- Ed Tebaldi, Associate Professor of Economics at Bryant University

Follow what RI leaders had to say about the future of our economy

View all of the real-time business climate survey results

See Governor Raimondo's strategy to grow RI's economy 

From a report by the Providence Business News:

"The sentiment of 'potential' appears to have resonated with those in attendance, as a real-time survey revealed that 53 percent of participants believe Rhode Island’s economy will be in better shape in the next year, representing a 24 percentage point increase from the same survey taken at the event last year. Thirty-nine percent said the economy will remain about the same and 8 percent believe it will worsen.

The survey also revealed a slight uptick in how participants feel about their own businesses. Sixty-nine percent of participants said their business would be in better shape in the next year, representing a 7 percentage point increase over last year.

Participants said government regulation/uncertainty, sourcing talent/engaging employees and labor costs are the three leading economic concerns in Rhode Island, according to survey results."


Event pictures 1 

Event pictures 2 

Business leaders express optimism at economic outlook breakfast 

Chamber audience hears about R.I.'s needs to catch up in race for investment dollars 

Leaders: Business incentives crucial for R.I. to rebound 

Chamber breakfast-goers see plus in PawSox move to Providence

Chamber Advocates for Measure to Boost RI Manufacturing

ProvChamber Advocates for Measure to Boost RI Manufacturing 

Legislation would strengthen Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to help Rhode Island manufacturers thrive and create jobs.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce joined with The University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley, Leslie Taito, vice president of business development at Hope Global, Dave Marquis, president of Chemart, Geoff Grove, president of Pilgrim Screw, Christian Cowan, center director of Polaris MEP and others on March 26th at a House Finance Committee hearing to advocate in favor of a proposal to help Rhode Island manufacturers continue to innovate, compete and create more quality jobs.   

Investment to strengthen the statewide Polaris MEP program is a priority as part of the Chamber's 2015 Legislative Agenda and our Innovation Providence initiative.

Despite the last decade’s job losses, Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector continues to demonstrate a diversity and resiliency to support a manufacturing renaissance in the state. The maker movement and new technologies are allowing manufacturing to occur at an unprecedented pace and scale, which is why the services offered by Polaris MEP to help grow the state’s manufacturing industry are so vital to our economic development efforts. 

Read more about the proposal and why the Chamber supports investment in Polaris MEP 

What’s Up with Providence? See a New Skyward View of our Capital City.

What's up with Providence? See a New Skyward View of our Capital City.

Get a bird's eye view of Providence as filmed with Aerial Radio Controlled (RC) Videography.

Laurie White Joins Governor Gina Raimondo for A Lively Experiment

Did you miss the conversation about RI's budget, Medicaid, jobs, revenue and snow? See it here. 

On March 22, Governor Gina Raimondo joined host Dyana Koelsch with Chamber President Laurie White, URI Professor of Political Science, Maureen Moakley; and Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, President of Latino Public Radio to discuss the Governor's budget, trimming Medicaid expenses, increasing jobs, creating new revenue sources and yes, dealing with snow on the first day of Spring!

See the conversation at:

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Scheduled to Visit RI

PRESS RELEASE - March 22, 2015

CONTACT: Chip Unruh (Reed), 202-224-4642


Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Scheduled to Visit RI in May

Fed Chair will deliver speech to Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at
annual Economic Outlook Luncheon

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Banking Committee, today joined with Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce officials to announce that Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen is scheduled to visit Rhode Island on Friday, May 22.

The Fed Chair will deliver a speech to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for their annual Economic Outlook Luncheon. 

Chair Yellen is the first woman in U.S. history to lead the central bank.  She also has a Rhode Island connection, having graduated summa cum laude from Brown University with a degree in economics in 1967.

“I am pleased Chair Yellen will return to Rhode Island, a place where she spent quite a bit of time as a college student.  Today, Chair Yellen helps set the course not just for the U.S. economy, but the world economy,” said Senator Reed.  “This is a great opportunity to hear directly from one of the most influential voices in the world about our economic future.  I hope she will talk directly with business, community, and civic leaders about conditions in the local economy and job market and what we need to do to build a stronger and more sustainable economy.”

“We are honored that Chair Yellen will take the time to visit Rhode Island and discuss issues vital to our local businesses and community at the Chamber’s annual Economic Outlook Luncheon.  As one of the world’s most respected economists and leading policymakers,  the opportunity to hear directly from Chair Yellen about her insights on the economy, jobs, and business will be an important moment for the state,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Thank you to Senator Reed for his leadership to help improve the lives of Rhode Island workers and families and for his efforts to secure Chair Yellen’s return to the state she called home as a college student.”

The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States.  It was created as an independent entity by Congress and some of its duties include: conducting the nation’s monetary policy, supervising and regulating banking institutions, maintaining the stability of the financial system, and providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions.

The Fed’s Board of Governors oversees the Federal Reserve System.  It is made up of seven members who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. 

Mark your calendars & register for the Chamber's annual Economic Outlook Luncheon.


Fed chair Yellen to visit R.I. on May 22

Fed Reserve chair to visit RI in May

Fed Chair Janet Yellen to speak in Rhode Island in May

Fed chair to speak at Chamber event

AG Kilmartin Files “Patent Troll” Legislation

PRESS RELEASE - March 18, 2015

CONTACT: Amy Kempe, (401) 274-4400 x2234,


Attorney General Kilmartin Files “Patent Troll” Legislation

Business Groups Applaud Legislation

 Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has filed legislation (S0596/H5455) that would prohibit bad faith assertions of patent infringement against Rhode Island businesses and individuals.  “Patent trolls” are individuals or companies that acquire patents solely for the purpose of using them to extract license fees and settlements from those targeted as alleged infringers. Consumers, small businesses and non-profit agencies are often targeted by patent trolls because they have purchased or used products with a wide-range of patented technology such as printers or scanners.

The legislation, filed on behalf of Attorney General Kilmartin by Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere (R, District 38 – Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) and Chair of the House Corporations Committee Representative Brian Kennedy (D, District 38 -  Hopkinton, Westerly), would prohibit a person from making bad faith assertions of patent infringement against a Rhode Island target.  The law would also allow a target to bring action in Rhode Island Superior Court against the patent troll, where they may be awarded equitable relief, actual damages, costs, attorney’s fees and exemplary damages.

“As the advocate for growing and protecting the business community in Rhode Island, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is pleased to join with Attorney General Kilmartin, Representative Kennedy and Senator Algiere to help shield companies from needless, costly and abusive patent infringement lawsuits,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Rhode Island businesses are looking to expand, but their growth is threatened by the actions of a few bad actors. If we want to create new jobs and grow our economy, we must crack down on these harmful and illegitimate threats from patent assertion entities.”

Read more

Join Us for the Santander Economic Outlook Breakfast
Roman Blanco, CEO of Santander Bank, N.A. and Laurie White, President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, cordially invite you to attend this interactive breakfast on the economic outlook for the Providence area.

The program will feature remarks from Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. 

An audience real-time business climate survey and a panel discussion with the following local leaders offering their insights will follow:
- Joseph Azrack - Chairman, I-195 Redevelopment District Commission
- Scott Jensen – Director, RI Department of  Labor & Training
- Stefan Pryor – RI Secretary of Commerce
- Ed Tebaldi – Economist, Bryant University
Pre-registration is required. Seating is limited for this FREE program, so reserve your seat today

Join the Chamber for Our 2015 Congressional Breakfast

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is once again bringing Rhode Island's congressional delegation in front of you, our members. The format, an interactive discussion with Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen David Cicilline and James Langevin, will focus on the critical issues facing the business community. Citizens Bank is the Presenting Sponsor.

How can you expand your brand among the 500 plus attendees at this event? Sponsorship is a great way to stand out among the crowd. Contact Darlene Reza Rossi at 401.521.5000 or for details. 

Diversity & Inclusion Professionals Hold CEO Roundtable at Amica

RI Diversity and Inclusion Professionals Hold Annual CEO Roundtable at Amica Insurance

The Rhode Island Diversity and Inclusion Professionals held their annual CEO Roundtable at Amica Insurance on March 3.

The Chamber was proud to be a co-sponsor of the event. Participating on the panel of CEO’s was the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Peter Andruszkiewicz, along with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Banneker Industries President and CEO Cheryl Snead.

The panelists talked about the changing demographics of our state along with the need to make diversity and inclusion goals a high priority across all levels of an organization.  Many thanks to Linda Newton for organizing such a successful event and to Bob DiMuccio at Amica for being the host location.

Chamber Supports Infrastructure Investment to Boost Economic Growth

Chamber Supports Infrastructure Investment to Boost Economic Growth

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce understands infrastructure investment is an important economic development issue.

That’s why the Chamber has joined more than 260 local, regional and state chambers of commerce to sign on to a letter urging Congress to resolve the impending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund, and to pass a long term federal transportation authorization bill.

Without a sustainable source of funding, the federal Highway Trust Fund will be in a deep deficit that will require major cuts, or potential halts, in highway and transit projects which would jeopardize much needed economic and job growth.  

View the letter and an interactive map of signatories at:

Chamber and Latino Business Network Partner to Celebrate Progress and Diversity

Greater Providence Chamber and RI Latino Professional Business Network Partner to Celebrate Progress and Diversity 

The Rhode Island Latino Professional Business Network and the Chamber hosted our second networking event on February 26 in a partnership to bridge social and economic boundaries by fostering connections and creating new opportunities among the members of our respective statewide business organizations. 

We may represent two different organizations, and many different cultures, industries, and companies, but we are all part of one Rhode Island Business community.

This collaboration between our two organizations was the idea of Tomas Avila, a longtime Rhode Island resident, leader in the business community and president of the Network. Thank you Tomas!

Thank you also to the entire Providence Marriott team for hosting the event. The Marriott continues to be a wonderful partner with the Chamber, and we appreciate the professionalism and hospitality the Marriott staff brings to all of our events hosted there.

Check out some event pics here

Call for Proposals: Showcase Your Business at The Garage 2015!

Is your business growing in the food and beverage industry – one of RI’s leading industries?
Is your company generating revenues by partnering with or servicing businesses in the food and beverage marketplace?
Has your business innovated to capitalize on RI’s food culture and emerging trends in the sector?

If so, then the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce of Commerce wants to hear from you. Whether you are directly in the food and beverage industry or a player anywhere along the supply chain, the Chamber is looking for great Rhode Island businesses to showcase at our 2015 Garage event this spring.


What is The Garage? The Garage is the place where the private sector creates a mash-up of all good things happening in the local business community. Revenue generating companies share success stories and best practices in an effort to inspire, cross-pollinate and grow key economic sectors. See pics from last year’s event.
Our theme - "All Things Food" – is geared to identify and put a spotlight on who's hot in Rhode Island’s food and beverage cluster today and what they are doing to fuel their success.
If you have a story to tell, please send it to Mike Blazek at Please submit your proposal for consideration using 250 words or less by Friday, March 6, 2015.  
You may e-mail or call Mike at 401-621-6103 with any questions.

HealthSource RI: What’s Next for the State’s Health Benefits Exchange?

The Chamber thanks HealthSource RI's newly appointed director Anya Rader Wallack for speaking with us on February 24 about her plans for the State's health benefits exchange. Entering its second year of enrollment, Healthsource RI's future as a state-run marketplace continues to be a hot topic of discussion and a key part of the Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Agenda.

Director Wallack shared her vision for the state-run exchange as it continues its mission to offer affordable quality health insurance options for businesses and employees.

Read about what Director Wallack and others have to say.




BUSINESS ADVOCACY: Chamber Strongly Supports TDI Reform Bills

Chamber Strongly Supports Proposals to Reform RI's Temporary Disability Insurance Program 

Rhode Island is one of a handful of states that still requires private-sector workers to pay into a state Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) fund, even when their employers already offer private temporary disability insurance. State, federal and some municipal workers in Rhode Island are already exempt.

As a key part of the Chamber's 2015 Legislative Agenda, we strongly favor proposals that would narrow eligibility and exempt employers which already offer their own private temporary disability insurance coverage from the state's TDI program.

The Chamber is pleased to enthusiastically support bills introduced by Representative Joseph Shekarchi (H 5341) and Senator William Walaska (S 183) to permit employees who are covered by employer sponsored disability insurance programs to elect to be exempt from the state TDI program, provided the employer has submitted documentation confirming coverage. 

We urge Chamber members to contact their General Assembly representatives to voice their support for TDI reform in Rhode Island. 

Businesses Invited to Apply for 21st Annual Worksite Health Awards

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Invite Businesses to Apply for 21st Annual Worksite Health Awards

(2.17.2015)  - Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) announced that the call for applications for the 21stAnnual Worksite Health Awards, which recognize Rhode Island companies with successful workplace wellness programs, is open now through Friday, March 13.
BCBSRI’s Wellness Works™ program is a proud Presenting Sponsor of these awards, in partnership with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce (GPCC). All Rhode Island companies are eligible, including small (100 or fewer employees) and large (over 100 employees) businesses, and applicants must demonstrate exceptional health and wellness programs and health-oriented workplace policies. Winning companies will be honored at a ceremony on June 4 and profiled in a special section of Rhode Island Monthly magazine.
“A healthy workforce is essential to advancing the mission of any organization,” said Melissa Cummings, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, BCBSRI. “The Worksite Health Awards are an opportunity for employers across the state to be recognized for their commitment to wellness in the workplace. From exercise to diet to stress reduction, investing in the well-being of employees returns tremendous benefits – not only to employees themselves, but toward a company’s success overall.” 
“Keeping your employees healthy can have a positive impact on morale, retention, and your bottom line. If your company successfully promotes worksite wellness—improving the health of your employees and your business—we want to recognize you for it,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
In 2014, over 70 local companies received Worksite Health Awards. All Rhode Island businesses are eligible to apply for Worksite Health Awards, which are awarded annually. Winners are selected based on the scale and impact of their health and wellness programs and health-oriented workplace policies after submitting proof of those programs. 
Interested businesses can find more detail and apply online at
$200,000 Award Secured for Rhode Island Business Startup Program

“Thanks to the efforts of the Founders League, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Senator Whitehouse and the Chamber’s Innovation Providence initiative, we now have an opportunity to strengthen the flow of talent and energy fueling the success of Rhode Island startups. By better connecting students and recent graduates with startups throughout the state, Rhode Island will be able to create jobs, retain a world-class workforce and grow our economy.”

“The Chamber is pleased that discussions begun through Innovation Providence eventually culminated in funding to establish a statewide platform for channeling students to innovation-driven ventures.”

Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce


Founders League & Social Enterprise Greenhouse Win $200,000 from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation

Sen. Whitehouse Helps Secure Funds for RI Business Startup Program

Friday, February 13, 2015

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse announced today that startup collaboration The Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) have been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The grant will fund Rhode Island StartZone, a statewide program to link talented students and graduates from local colleges and universities with the resources they need to start their own company or social enterprise in Rhode Island.

Whitehouse invited the Blackstone Charitable Foundation staff to visit Rhode Island in May 2014 to meet with Rhode Island stakeholders, including a roundtable co-hosted by the Providence Chamber of Commerce. After the visit, the Founders League and SEG developed a strong grant submission that was one of 20 selected from over 500 applications to Blackstone's Innovation Grants program, which funds initiatives and entrepreneurial organizations that promote innovation and benefit local communities.  

“Rhode Island has colleges and research universities that attract good students from around the country, but these bright and talented young people too often leave us after graduation.  Convincing them to stay in our communities, work with our startups and social enterprises, and launch their own ventures will be a real boost to our state,” said Whitehouse. “Congratulations to The Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse on a successful application, and thanks to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for this investment in Rhode Island.”

“The Blackstone Charitable Foundation applauds Senator Whitehouse for his tireless efforts fostering entrepreneurship in Rhode Island and attracting corporate foundation support for local initiatives,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “We are pleased to fund the promising collaboration between The Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse to build Rhode Island's StartZone. Our experience funding innovative entrepreneurship programs around the country has taught us that sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship among young people at the college level can have a profound impact on local economies.”

“We could not be more proud to partner with Senator Whitehouse and work together in support of entrepreneurship in Rhode Island,” said Blackstone President and COO Tony James. “The Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse have demonstrated an impressive ability to cultivate entrepreneurs, and we look forward to supporting them as they build a robust network of entrepreneurial activity statewide through StartZone.”

StartZone will engage students through on-campus outreach, a web-based “dashboard” for collecting helpful information, visits to local ventures and entrepreneurs, conferences, mentoring and advising, and speaking programs.

“Startups are more than an interesting outlier in our economy: they are a powerful driver of job growth, a tool for retaining talent, and a magnet for attracting capital investment. With help from our partners, we've made great strides in reinvigorating our focus on entrepreneurship. Better integrating our state’s young people into this economy is a great opportunity to take another big leap forward. We are honored to receive this award from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and are thrilled to expand the Founders League in new and exciting ways,” said Melissa Withers, Founders League Director.

“We are thrilled that such a highly regarded international investment firm has chosen to support social enterprise in Rhode Island.  With our progressive policymakers and local universities leading the charge, Rhode Island has become a national model of the power of social enterprise.  This grant will allow Social Enterprise Greenhouse to work with students to launch and grow great local companies, that will make our communities more prosperous, resilient and equitable,” said SEG CEO Kelly Ramirez.

“Thanks to the efforts of the Founders League, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Senator Whitehouse and the Chamber’s Innovation Providence initiative, we now have an opportunity to strengthen the flow of talent and energy fueling the success of Rhode Island startups. By better connecting students and recent graduates with startups throughout the state, Rhode Island will be able to create jobs, retain a world-class workforce and grow our economy,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber is pleased that discussions begun through Innovation Providence eventually culminated in funding to establish a statewide platform for channeling students to innovation-driven ventures.”

The Founders League is one of the largest startup support platforms in Southeastern New England and the largest in Rhode Island.  Started in 2012, The Founders League is a partnership between Betaspring, Brown University, the Providence Chamber of Commerce and the University of Rhode Island.  It directly serves 60 startups via shared working space and resources and has hosted more than 1,200 entrepreneurs for events that range from casual programming, competition, and open events, to one-on-one mentoring and startup acceleration.

Headquartered in Providence’s Knowledge District, Social Enterprise Greenhouse provides social entrepreneurs and ventures with the services they need to move from idea to execution to scale.  This includes incubation, acceleration, later stage strategy and financial services, and below market rate loan funding.

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Legislative Leaders Join Businesses for Forum on Jobs, Economy, Growth

Legislative Leaders Join Hundreds in Business Community for Annual Forum on Jobs, Economy and Growth

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce hosted a candid conversation with leaders of the Rhode Island General Assembly as they responded to questions regarding the many critical issues facing the business community.  

With some 700 business and civic leaders in attendance, the Chamber’s annual Legislative Luncheon – A Forum for 2015 took place on Wednesday, February 11 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. 

This year, the Chamber invited student representatives from Rhode Island colleges and universities to attend the event and selected two students to pose questions to the legislative leaders. Two of our Chamber members from Textron and Something Fishy, Inc. also asked questions.

See the media coverage to learn more about what the legislative leaders had to say:

Providence Journal:



ABC 6:

See all the pictures by clicking here! 



What does Rhode Island’s Small Business Economy Look Like?

The U.S. Small Business Administration has released their 2014 Small Business Profiles report for all 50 states.

The SBA study offers information on small business employment, industry composition, small business borrowing, exporting, and survival rates, as well as business owner demographics. The profiles provide information for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories and United States.  

See what Rhode Island's small business economy looks like

Coverage: R.I. economy improving slowly, self employed grew in ’13

All 50 State Profiles

Knowledge Is Power: Ideas, Predictions & Trends for Small Biz in 2015

Knowledge Is Power: Big Ideas, Predictions and Trends for Small Business in 2015

Business News Daily asked small business owners and business experts what they think will be the next big thing in 2015. The good news? The experts agreed that 2015 will be a good year for small business and that things are looking up. However, that doesn't mean there won't be some big changes to adapt to in the coming year.

From the ever-changing technology sphere to ideas about the economy and business growth, Business News Daily offers 50 big ideas, predictions and trends to look out for in the small business world in 2015.

Find out how small businesses will be adapting in 2015

GPCC Storm Watch Continues For Monday

Knowledge Is Power:

Make the Best Decision For Your Business

Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor asked that this Storm Update be shared with chambers of commerce so you can in turn provide this update to your colleagues. Please let us know whether Secretary Pryor and the Chamber can be helpful to you regarding any issues that your businesses may be experiencing. Mr. Pryor welcomes your input and inquiries. Thank you.


  • We’re expecting more snow throughout the day.
  • The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning, which will be in effect until 1 a.m. Tuesday.
  • The snow is expected to continue through Monday. The forecast is calling for mostly a light to moderate snow, with the heaviest amounts coming during the morning commute. We are also expecting to see a mix of sleet and some freezing rain especially in the southern section of the State.
  • Forecasters are calling for 9-12” in the northern part of the state, 5-10” in the central part of the state, 3-6” in the southern part of the state, and perhaps 2-4” right along the coast.  
Businesses Give High Marks on Blizzard 2015 Prep and Clean-up

Businesses Give High Marks on Blizzard 2015 Prep and Clean-up

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary-designate Stefan Pryor joined Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White on January 28 to meet with businesses around Wayland Square in Providence. They visited local establishments to hear firsthand how they are doing after the blizzard and to learn if they needed any assistance.

The area businesses they visited were fully operational and gave very positive overall feedback on how the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence handled the winter storm preparations and dig out.

Thank you to all the businesses who spoke with us today! 

If any businesses need help with a storm related matter, you may e-mail Laurie White at

Check out pics of ALL the great businesses we met with today.



The Greater Providence Chamber and Commerce RI have created a "help desk" to ensure that the business community is dialed into all the pertinent resources to cope with the blizzard and its aftermath. Check back often for fresh updates on travel bans, parking bans, weather forecasts, and more. Click here for the latest information from Rhode Island EMA.

If you need help with a storm related matter effecting your business, email

CHAMBER ADVOCACY: Gvt. Affairs Committee Adopts 2015 Legislative Agenda


2015 Policy Priorities

As the advocate for growing and protecting the business community in Rhode Island, the Chamber supports policies that build on our state's economic advantages, spur new business growth, encourage expansion of existing RI businesses, create jobs and attract private investment.

2015 State Legislative Agenda 

Unemployment Insurance

  • Reform UI program to materially improve the state’s extremely poor ranking  - currently 49th

$500 Minimum Corporate/Business Entity Tax

  • Eliminate the minimum tax for first 3 years of an entity’s existence

Governor’s Economic Development Plan

  • Provide substantive input to the economic development plan the Governor is required to prepare within the first year of the new administration

Angel Investors and Venture Capital

  • Support initiatives to stimulate the angel network and venture capital investment in qualified businesses
  • Commerce RI proposal for credits up to $250,000 with $5MM annual cap

Temporary Disability Insurance Program

  • Allow employees who are covered by an employer sponsored disability program to opt out of state TDI program

Continue/Expand Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Funding

Apprenticeship and internship programs

  • Advocate for additional funding to expand apprenticeship and internships with proven track records of job promotion and creation

Common Core

  • Continue to advocate for the Common Core


  • Advocate for additional funding to bring all municipalities into the existing e-permitting network and seek additional means to incentivize municipalities to participate.

HealthSource RI

  • Support maintaining a state run health insurance benefit exchange with an appropriate structure and funding level consistent with its core mission. 

Crowd Funding

  • Amend R.I. securities laws to enhance access to capital for entrepreneurs

Manufacturing Extension Partnership

  • Seek state funding for POLARIS – the R.I. MEP program



Paul T. DeRoche, Senior Vice President Government Affairs or 401-521-5000

Beacon Mutual Announces Policyholder Dividend


January 15, 2015                                                
Contact: Stephanie Mandeville
Office: 401.825.2662 | Mobile: 401.536.5760


Beacon Mutual Announces Policyholder Dividend

Warwick, RI – The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company today announced it will distribute a $2 million dividend payment among its 12,100 policyholders. Beacon Mutual, Rhode Island’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance, will begin issuing the dividend during the second quarter of 2015.

“As a mutual insurance company we operate for the benefit of our policyholders. During this difficult economic climate, we are pleased to be able to assist Rhode Island businesses – our policyholders – with this dividend offering,” said Beacon Mutual President & CEO James V. Rosati. “This dividend collectively will result in two million dollars being returned to the state’s economy.”

“In order to create opportunity for Rhode Island families, we need to build skills, attract investments and entrepreneurs, and foster innovation,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Beacon’s commitment to creating safer workplaces benefits all Rhode Islanders and helps to make our economy stronger for everyone.”

With five consecutive years of dividend returns, Beacon Mutual is fulfilling its mission of being a stabilizing presence in the Rhode Island workers’ compensation system.

The dividend will be distributed to all policyholders insured by the company as of December 30, 2014, who have been insured for one year and whose premiums are paid in full.

“This dividend offering is possible as a result of capital gains on our investments,” added Rosati. “As always, our focus remains: to reduce workplace injuries through safety training and education; to provide the highest quality resources and programs, like our Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work program; and to treat injured workers with respect and dignity, while getting them back to work as safely and as soon as possible. It is the continued hard work and dedication of Beacon employees that enables us to deliver these high-quality customer and claim services.”

Beacon continues its commitment to increasing efficiencies and reducing operating costs through automation and innovation, and creating value for policyholders every day.

Promote Workplace Health this New Year with the Chamber’s Rx Discount Card

Is your New Year's resolution to be healthier and save money?

Own a business? Have part-time employees in need of pharmacy benefits?

Has your company recently switched to a HSA or high deductible health plan?

The Chamber's RIRX prescription drug card can come in handy. In some instances, depending on your insurance plan, the drug card can save you up to 75% on FDA approved prescriptions. The discount card can be used by people whose health plans don't include prescription benefits; those whose health insurance has a high deductible; people with health savings accounts (HSAs); those who are in the "doughnut hole" of Medicare Part D plans; and those who need a prescription drug not covered by their insurance plan. The card works just as well for individuals who are uninsured.

Download your free card by clicking here.

You can also visit any CVS/Pharmacy and request a card.

Survey: New England Executives Optimistic about Positive Outlook for 2015

Press Release Article From:



EANE Contact: Carolyn Lavin, 401.451.9660


Business Trend Survey by Employers Association Shows Region’s Outlook on Talent, Training, Salary, Staffing and More

Lincoln, RI (January 6, 2015)— With close to 900 members concentrated in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the Employers Association of the NorthEast today unveiled the regional findings from the 2015 National Business Trends Survey conducted by the Employer Associations of America. The survey covers trends in staff, hiring, job creation, pay, and beyond.

“Despite strong continued optimism for 2015, employers are keenly aware of short- and long-term competition and talent challenges looming ahead,” states Meredith Wise, who is both Chair of the Board of the national Employer Associations of America and President of the Employers Association of the NorthEast. “The survey allows executives to make data-driven decisions and provides detailed information on how other executives plan to approach their business in 2015. Here in the northeast, the results reflect a tempered but cautious optimism of the region.”

Executives in New England and throughout the northeast are as optimistic about a positive outlook for 2015 as the national trends, with 53% believing the 2015 economy would be at least the same as the 2014 economy and 41% thinking it would be better.  Other key findings include:

Staffing on the rise but not as strong

Despite the less favorable economic outlook regionally, regional executives are still expected to add staff in 2015 at or above the national projected staffing levels. The numbers show that 57% surveyed intend to increase staff in 2015, versus only 52% nationally who indicated they would add staff in 2015.  However, the 57% rate figure represents a slight decline regionally from the 2014 outlook which saw 59% of respondents indicate they would add staff during the 2014 year.

Vast majority to award wage/salary increases:

Consistent with the trend nationally, 81% of executives responding to the survey plan to award wage/salary increases in 2015 (which was comparable to 78% of survey respondents nationally who had indicated that they would be doing the same). 

Training remains a priority:

58% of regional respondents indicated they will be providing additional training and development to their existing workforce,  a slight increase from the 56% figure in last year’s survey and identical to the 58% rate noted nationally.

Skilled labor remains greatest challenge:

Investment in both pay and training is a reflection of the need to retain key talent as regional respondents noted skilled labor shortage as the greatest “serious” challenge both short-term (over the next year) and long-term (over the next 5 years) for their businesses.


 For over 100 years, the Employers Association of the NorthEast (EANE) has provided resources for organizations to maximize employee engagement and retention while minimizing risk.

The Employer Associations of America (EAA) consists of 33 regional employer associations that serve 35,000 companies and more than six million employees.

A total of 1,417 companies, covering locations in all 50 states, were surveyed in October/November 2014 representing companies of all sizes: 1-99 employees (53%), 100-249 employees (27%), 250-499 employees (12%), 500-999 employees (4%), and 1,000+ employees (4%).

# # #

CHAMBER ADVOCACY: Tax Changes Kick In For 2015. Corporate Rate Drops To New Low.

New Strategies for Growing Business Prosperity

Starting January 1, 2015, Rhode Island’s 9 percent corporate income tax rate will drop to 7 percent.

In addition, the franchise tax will be officially repealed, mandatory combined reporting will take effect, and businesses treated as C corporations will see changes in their apportionment calculations.

These and other changes are the result of legislation approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee on June 19, 2014.

Click here for details.
CHAMBER ISSUE FOCUS: Workforce Development Tops Biz Leaders’ Concerns.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is partnering with state education leaders to provide input on their 2015-2020 strategic plan. The Rhode Island Department of Education has received more than 4000 responses to their online survey. However, the views of the business community have been underrepresented. We need to change that. Take five minutes and complete the interactive questionnaire. Make the case that your ability to hire qualified workers has a huge impact on the overall success of your business. Then share the link with everyone in your networks:

If you are wondering how education reform stacks up as an issue for business leaders nationally, check out the Q4/2014 issue of Area Development Magazine. The cover story lists "the top 10 location factors" for site selectors. The availability of skilled labor jumped to #1, with "a growing economy and an onshoring trend fanning demand."

Promoting Workplace Health With The Chamber’s Free Prescription Drug Card

Maintain Productivity and Good Health

Flu season is officially here.  The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in preventing sickness. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available locally.  

Should you contract the cold or flu, the Chamber's RIRX prescription drug card can come in handy. In some instances, depending on your insurance plan, the drug card can save you up to 75% on FDA approved prescriptions. The card works just as well for individuals who are uninsured.

Download your free card by clicking here.

You can also visit any CVS/Pharmacy and request a card.

Chamber Part of Coalition Advocating for Extension of Temporary Tax Provisions
The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has joined more than 500 organizations representing millions of individuals, businesses of all sizes and community development and nonprofit organizations from around the U.S. to sign on to a November 18, 2014 letter delivered to Congress urging policymakers to work together to extend, enhance or make permanent expired and expiring tax provisions that are critically important to U.S. jobs and the broader economy. 

At least 50 tax provisions expired at the end of 2013 or are scheduled to expire in 2014.

UPDATE: The Senate voted 76-16 on December 16 to approve a one-year retroactive extension of most – but not all – of the temporary tax deductions, credits, and incentives that expired at the end of last year.

The approved extenders bill, which cleared the House of Representatives on December 3, now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature. Obama is expected to sign the bill. 

To see which provisions are extended and which provisions are not renewed, click here.
Click here to view the letter and list of signatories. Join the discussion on Twitter at #GridlockOrGrowth.

See more at:

BCBSRI CEO Takes Helm as Chamber Board Chair at Annual Meeting

President and Chief Executive Officer at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Peter Andruszkiewicz Takes Helm as Board Chair at Chamber’s 2014 Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting also featured keynote by Citizens Financial Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Van Saun

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (November 24, 2014)Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and chief executive officer at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), assumed the role of the new chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting held November 24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Andruszkiewicz succeeds outgoing chairman Jon Duffy, president of Duffy & Shanley.

 “I look forward to taking on this leadership role within the Chamber, and I welcome the opportunity that it presents,” said Andruszkiewicz. “Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been a member of the Chamber for 54 years. In this new role I am committed to supporting our state’s continued growth as a wonderful place to do business and live—values that are shared by the Chamber and by BCBSRI.”

 “In his three years as chair, Jon has helped to guide the Chamber in our efforts to advocate for growing and protecting the business community in Rhode Island. His leadership allowed us to continue to serve our members and our community intelligently, graciously, and enthusiastically, while taking on new projects and collaborating with new and unexpected partners,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Laurie White continued, “The Chamber is honored and excited to have Peter as our new board chair. His wealth of experience in business and healthcare and his leadership, vision, and passion for making Rhode Island a great place for people and businesses to thrive is a tremendous asset to us.”

Andruszkiewicz has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare and healthcare financing. He also previously served on the board of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of the Greater Providence Chamber’s board for the past three years.

Prior to joining BCBSRI in May 2011, Andruszkiewicz served as President of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, where he spent three years successfully leading operations for that state’s largest nonprofit health plan. His experience also includes leadership roles at CIGNA HealthCare and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of the National Capitol Area (now CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield).

A native of Salem, Massachusetts, Andruszkiewicz graduated from Springfield College in his home state. In addition to serving as chairman of the Board of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, he gives back to the community as a trustee of the Greater Providence YMCA, and as a board member of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC), the Rhode Island Quality Institute and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Citizens Financial Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Van Saun headlined the Annual Meeting with a keynote address. Van Saun shared his perspective on how financial institutions can continue to make meaningful contributions to economic growth and vitality in the communities they serve and to gain the confidence of their customers and stakeholders. He also discussed Citizens’ recent IPO as well as the bank’s impact on and commitment to Rhode Island and the region.

“We’re deeply committed to supporting this state’s economic growth and vitality. We’ve been with you since 1827, and we look forward to many great years ahead,” said Van Saun.

Additionally, the evening included remarks by Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Providence Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza, and Bernie Szachara, interim publisher of The Providence Journal and senior vice-president for publishing for GateHouse Media.

Citizens Financial Group and UnitedHealthcare were the Presenting Sponsors of the event.

For media coverage and photos of the 2014 Annual Meeting, click on the links below:

2014 Annual Meeting Photos

A call for business-government teamwork at Providence Chamber of Commerce meeting

Leaders stress tax, education reforms to revive RI economy

BCBSRI CEO named chairman of Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

Providence Chamber Names New Chair

CHAMBER PRIDE: Providence Lands Outstanding Achievement Award for “Livability”

July 18, 2014 -- At the launch of the Providence Polaroid Project, Mayor Taveras accepted the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ award to Providence as one of four U.S. cities recognized with a 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award in City Livability.

According to the Providence Business News, Taveras accepted the award at the site that’s part of the reason the city earned the recognition – the PopUp Providence project, a three-year-long urban space initiative launched by the city’s department of planning and development in fall 2013. The goal of the project is to enliven neighborhoods and engage residents with interactive artistic and cultural projects.

Three others awards for outstanding achievement in livability went to Arlington, Texas; Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz.; and Philadelphia.

To learn more about the award, visit the Providence Business News.

CHAMBER BUSINESS: New Report Highlights Important Role Defense Industry Plays in RI Economy

PROVIDENCE, RI (July 9, 2014) -- The Providence Journal today published a cover story highlighting a new report issued by the Rhode Island Defense Economy Planning Commission. 

In the article, Edinaldo Tebaldi, an economics professor at Bryant University and author of the report, outlined some of its findings, including:

The 32,993 jobs includes 15,760 direct jobs at defense employers and 17,233 spinoff jobs at suppliers and other employers who support defense companies and their workers.

The $3.7 billion in the state’s economy, about 7 percent of the state’s entire economic activity, includes $2.2 billion in direct activity and $1.5 billion in spinoff activity.

The $1.9 billion in wages includes $1.1 billion for workers employed directly in the defense industry and $800 million for workers at other companies.

The $105 million in state taxes includes $47 million in personal income taxes and $58 million in other taxes.

For every 100 jobs created at private defense contractors, another 152 jobs are created in other sectors of the state’s economy.

Complete coverage of the report can be found at The Providence Journal

CHAMBER ECONOMY: RI Moves Up Four Spots in 2014 New Economy Index

PROVIDENCE, RI (June 23, 2014) -- The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation recently released its 2014 Best And Worst States For The New Economy Report. Moving up four spots, Rhode Island ranked an impressive 19th, and was listed as one of the top five movers in a number of categories, including high-tech jobs, clean energy, workforce education, fast-growing firms, and high-wage services. 

Rhode Island also ranked in the top ten for two categories: non-industry investment in R&D and the digital economy.  

For more information, the complete report can be found at:

Opportunities For Accelerating Innovation: Chamber and STAC Join Forces

In an effort to accelerate innovation in Rhode Island and help local entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses compete for approximately $2.5 billion in available annual federal funding from the  Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and  Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), U.S. Senator Jack Reed and the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) will host a free forum and workshop on Friday, June 27, 2014, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., at Commerce RI


The SBIR/STTR programs provide critical and significant sources of early-stage research and development funding to companies developing cutting-edge technologies. These programs are highly competitive, and the grant and contract preparation and submission process can be complicated for first-time applicants.


At this workshop, program managers from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DOD) will participate in an advanced discussion on tips and strategies for working with federal agencies to develop winning proposals. The program will include time for questions and information on the Innovate RI Small Business Fund (IRISBF), which provides grants to help defray the cost of applying for SBIR/STTR awards and matching grants to Phase I recipients.


Register early to reserve your spot as space is limited.

Greater RI campaign goes live with digital strategy

Think Bigger

The elements of the digital marketing campaign include drawing attention to Greater Rhode Island as a place where the mighty forces of "grit and intellect intersect." Potential investors and job creators are encouraged to get immersed in a formidable talent base of world-class designers, artists and "artrepreneurs." Copy points reinforce that academic researchers, medical scientists and fabricators, alike, know that Rhode Island is the perfect place to grow and innovate.

Key words aimed at generating clicks to the website highlight Rhode Island's industry strengths in design, medical research, food innovation, brain science, marine technology and consumer products. Check it out and bone up on why growing a business in Rhode Island makes a ton of sense.

Meanwhile, the 195 Redevelopment District Commission has produced a compelling website and developer's tool box to generate interest in the 21 parcels of land freed up by the relocation of the interstate highway. The first round of proposals is due on May 1. The accompanying image is a rendering of the open space and river walk planned to connect the east and wide sides of the LINK. 


Bell Helicopter and Rhode Island’s knowledge economy

Bell Helicopter, Cessna Among Textron's Powerful Brands

Scott Donnelly, president and CEO of Providence-based Textron will deliver the Chamber's annual economic outlook luncheon address on May 1st in conjunction with "The Garage."

Textron started as a small textile company in 1923, when 27-year-old Royal Little founded the Special Yarns Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. Revenues that first year were just $75,000. Today that company has grown into a $13 billion company with more than 33,000 employees in 25 countries. It is known for producing some of the most sophisticated and leading technology products in the world and includes globally recognized brands such as Cessna Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Beechcraft and E-Z-GO.

Scott Donnelly joined Textron after a 19-year career at General Electric, most recently as president and CEO of its aviation unit. Consistent with the theme of “The Garage,” where the power of a single idea can ultimately transform the world, Donnelly will be discussing the importance of product innovation at Textron businesses today.

To register for the Economic Outlook Luncheon, click here.

Downtown Providence Scores Big On “Livability”

Providence Ranks #2 On "Top 10 Best Downtowns 2014"

Efforts to transform Downtown Providence into one of America's great urban centers are paying off. is highlighting the area as a place that is attracting new residents and businesses. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with a number of civic organizations including the Providence Foundation and the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, has been aggressively championing the Providence experience.

Recently, the Chamber launched a special marketing website targeting entrepreneurial investment, noting that Providence is an internationally known center for art, design and creativity. In addition, the community has come together to feature the positive attributes of Greater Rhode Island as an ideal location for corporate relocation, particularly given our enviable location along the lucrative northeast corridor. "Think Bigger" is the reinforcing theme of both marketing efforts. 

See the latest news about #ourpvd.

Follow Our Efforts To Invigorate The Economy

Talent, Growth, Technology Key To Recovery

Be an advocate for our government affairs priorities in 2014. Your activism can make a difference. Familiarize yourself with the issues. Read what our elected officials have to say about the business community's priorities. Understand the political complexities of the 2014 legislative environment under Speaker Mattiello.

To further amplify the voice of business, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is working with a broad coalition of business organizations to push a growth agenda. Relevant issues include taxes, public education, regulatory schemes and workforce development. 

Think Creatively: Art and Design As Advantage

New Economic Development Website Launches:

Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger

A composite listing of more than 1,000 data points critical to positioning Rhode Island as the ideal spot for new and expanding businesses


11.26.13 PROVIDENCE, R.I. – This morning, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, launched a new, interactive economic development website quantifying why Rhode Island is the ideal choice for business decision makers looking to relocate, start-up or expand. Pulling together more than 1,000 distinct data points, the site, “Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger,” provides a one-stop shop for the critical information needed by business executives as they consider where in the Northeast to grow their business. The website also highlights growth companies and industries that have already taken advantage of the unique competitive advantage offered by Rhode Island.

Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger” provides local businesses, industry leaders, and prospective companies access to unfiltered data, based on standards developed by the International Economic Development Council, on Rhode Island’s demographics, higher education, health care systems, employers, government, payroll costs and much more. It also highlights specific data and infographics that reinforce Rhode Island's unique strengths in the dynamic and innovative Northeast market. For instance, comparing states in the Northeast:

    • Rhode Island ranks #1 in research and development tax credit.
    • Rhode Island ranks #1 in median internet download speeds.
    • Rhode Island ranks #3 in start-ups per million residents.
    • Rhode Island ranks #2 in academic research and development dollars per capita.
    • Rhode Island is home to six collaborative brain science initiatives combining the research of over 100 doctors and scientists.

“Never before has greater Rhode Island put forth its unique and compelling assets in one interactive site,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Situated along one of the most powerful economic corridors in the world, with top education and research facilities, hospitals, start-ups and established businesses, Rhode Island allows for and cultivates the kind of collaboration that breeds innovative success stories.” 

“The Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island is honored to be part of this collaborative effort to position the Rhode Island product in the northeast market. The Greater RI website provides the baseline information and strategic messaging necessary to be competitive in promoting private investment and job creation.  We look forward to building on this collaboration.  Working together, Rhode Island will be successful,” said Scott Gibbs, president of the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island.

“This comprehensive website provides the data and information to help businesses looking to expand in the Northeast make an informed decision and consider Rhode Island,” said Marcel A. Valois Executive Director of the RIEDC. “Rhode Island has many economic assets and we must collaborate and work in partnerships to achieve long-term sustainable economic growth that will benefit all Rhode Islanders.”

“Atlas is honored to be working with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation as a long term partner in the success of its website, This new website, armed with the latest technology and thousands of distinct data points, will be key to converting expanding and relocating companies inside and outside of Rhode Island from casual browsers to real prospects for the state and its community partners. We are also pleased that also provides a platform for the cities, towns and regions to gain access to expanding and relocating businesses, and to the tools they can use to market their own communities and business locations.  It is in this spirit of collaboration and regionalism that we are excited to introduce to Rhode Island, and the world,” said Ben Wright, CEO of Atlas Advertising, one of the nation’s foremost leaders in economic development marketing.

“Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger” is a public/private partnership based on nine months of research guided by the institutional knowledge of corporate relocation and site selection industry experts. It is the next step in Rhode Island's effort to showcase continuing industry successes in new and innovative fields such as brain science, medical advances, and food science, and make it easier for businesses to better understand why Rhode Island is the ideal place for their company. 

The website can be found at You can join the conversation on Facebook at Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger, or on Twitter @GreaterRI or #ThinkBiggerRI.



Have you downloaded the app to your digital devices?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that Americans spend more on prescription drugs than people in any other country: some $45 billion in out-of-pocket dollars in the last year alone. With that in mind, the Rhode Island Rx Card is reminding those who aren’t insured or who take prescription drugs that aren’t covered by their health insurance plans, can use the Rhode Island Rx Card to obtain discounts of up to 80 percent off the retail price for brand and generic FDA-approved medications.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Rhode Island Medical Society have been working closely with Rhode Island Rx Card to distribute free discount prescription cards to all residents. The goal of the partnership is to provide additional card distribution channels and create awareness so that all residents will have access to this free statewide prescription assistance program. Cards are also available at United Way, Goodwill, Cranston Family Center, Newport Family Center and Westerly Public Schools.

Rhode Island Rx Card was launched to help the uninsured and underinsured residents afford their prescription medications.  The program can also be used by people that have health insurance coverage with no prescription benefits, which is common in many health savings accounts (HSA) and high deductible health plans. 

"With health care cost containment among the most pressing issues for business leaders, the Chamber is pleased to be able to partner with United Networks of America to deliver an innovative and money-saving solution,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Another unique component of the program is their preferred pharmacy option. Rhode Island Rx Card has chosen CVS/pharmacy as their preferred pharmacy so that residents who don’t have access to a computer and can’t obtain a hard card, can visit any CVS/pharmacy to have their prescriptions processed through Rhode Island Rx Card. Residents can simply reference “Rhode Island Rx Card” to have their prescription processed through the program.  Rhode Island Rx Card is accepted at over 56,000 participating regional and national pharmacies.

“We strongly believe that this is an easy and innovative way to help the residents of Rhode Island find affordable prescription options,” states Program Director, Alix Cousins.

Rhode Island Rx Card has helped residents save over $3 million since its inception in March 2009. You can help by encouraging everyone to print a free Rhode Island Rx Card at Rhode Island Rx Card is also available as an app for iPhone and Android. You can search “Free Rx iCard” in the app store.  Anyone who is interested in ordering free cards for their business or organization can email Alix Cousins, Program Director, at


Fall Is Flu Prevention Season In The Workplace

Money-saving health benefits

Despite the balmy Fall weather, flu season is fast approaching. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is pleased to sponsor the free RIRX prescription drug card in connection with United Networks of America. Be sure to print your pre-activated card today so you are not left paying more than you need to for your medications. Tamiflu is the number one prescribed drug to treat the flu, but the downside is that it's not covered by most health insurance providers. Use the card. Don't pay full price. Take care of your employees, too. Let us know if your company would like to receive a plentiful supply of RIRX cards. Distribute them as part of your workplace wellness program. Employee health and productivity are good things!

Spotlight on Growth: DCI talks about consumer product design

The conversation continued at The Garage 2013, focusing on the industry intersections of design, manufacturing and connectivity. Rhode Island School of Design hosted the second iteration of the "mash-up" which drew a wide cross section of innovators as well as those seeking to be inspired by the power of creative expression.

Connie Howes, chair of Innovation Providence, kicked off the program by sharing examples of the knowledge economy's growing impact. Three grant recipients of Innovation Providence awards talked about how the early stage money leveraged considerable downstream investment. Chamber Chair Jon Duffy drew attention to the burgeoning entrepreneurial environment locally and gave special recognition to the organizers of the Founders League. 

RISD President John Maeda introduced a panel discussion on the art of critical making and talked about the need to inspire confident and creative thinkers who are comfortable navigating through uncertainty and ambiguity. These will be the change agents and economic drivers, he said. Jose Escobar, head of global innovation at Verizon, talked about the confluence of communications technology and design and invited the crowd to understand the breadth of resources available at the company's Innovation Center in Waltham.

The conversation turned electric when serial entrepreneur Angus Davis invited ten company founders to come on stage with him, one at a time, to talk about their business and the forces driving it today. Companies selected to participate included DCI, HealthID, Jamie Oliver at Home, Lee Allen Eyewear, Focal Upright Furniture, NanoSteel, R & D Technologies, Mojo Tech, Wear Asprin and Sproutel. 

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce extends a special thank you to our sponsors: Bank of America, The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, RISD, Verizon, Partridge Snow & Hahn, and the RIRX prescription drug card.

Rhode Island: It’s All in Our Backyard Campaign Launches

What do you think is Rhode Island’s greatest asset?

Our partners at the Rhode Island Foundation want to know!

The Chamber was excited to be part of the official launch of the "Rhode Island: It’s All In Our Backyard" campaign! The effort, which grew out of last year’s "Make it Happen" forum, is a way for everyone to celebrate Rhode Island as a vibrant, stimulating place to work and live.

The goal is to help Rhode Islanders connect with the state’s rich resources, and remind us of all our great assets: global industry and cutting-edge innovation, thriving entrepreneurship and world-class universities, breathtaking landscapes and a major arts scene.

How can you get involved? Visit to tell your favorite Rhode Island story, post a “backyard” photo on Instagram, or follow the movement on Twitter using #OurBackyardRI.


The Garage                         2013 Video

Take a look back at The Garage 2013! Using interviews, presentation footage and networking shots, we have captured the enthusiasm and energy of this first ever private sector led economic development event.

Thank you to the team at Cox Business for helping to capture individual growth experiences at the Cox Media Center and throughout the course of the day!

We are already working on the next installment of this exciting event. Watch in the coming weeks for information on when and where we will bring Rhode Island’s growth companies together again for another mash-up of compelling, relevant and inspiring storytelling around positive economic activity in Rhode Island.

FY 2014 Budget

House leadership has unveiled, and passed its spending blueprint for FY 2014.  We have begun to study the $8.2 billion budget proposal and its potential impact on Rhode Island businesses and their employees. Our initial dive has found quite a few areas of promise as well as a few concerns. We will continue to share more insight in the days ahead as more details emerge.

An initial review:

Workforce Development

  • Job Development Tax Credit – reinstates this program, provides a source of monies that would match local employer investment in a variety of workforce development initiatives.
  • SBIR/STTR – provides funding to foster job creation and economic development utilizing the existing Federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SSTR) programs. (Rhode Island has long underperformed in this area, as noted in the Chamber/STAC Innovation Index.)
  • Governor’s Internship Program – provides funding to reimburse local employers who offer internship opportunities.


  • Personal Income Tax – there is no change to the state’s Personal Income Tax rate.
  • Historic Tax Credit – preserved with leftover credits of $34 million, but also places a cap on funds per individual project at $5 million.
  • Depreciation of assets – creates an allowance for business to depreciate assets over one year instead of five; aligns Rhode Island with Federal tax code
  • Reduction of the Corporate Income Tax – eliminates Governor Chafee’s proposed reduction in the Corporate Income Tax.


  • Funding Formula – continues to fully fund the state education formula.
  • Higher Education – added $6 million in funding for state institutions of higher learning.

Other notables

  • Repealed current state law requiring general revenue surplus funds to be dedicated to the state employee retirement system.
  • Created $2.5 million payment for 38 Studios loan repayment, but created a fund to study viability of paying the entire loan.
  • Created $10 million revolving loan fund for municipal infrastructure projects.
  • Eliminated the Job Creation Guarantee Program, which removes the Economic Development Corporation’s authority to administer the loan guaranty program.


The full House is scheduled to hear, and approve, the budget proposal next Tuesday, June 25. A Senate vote is expected to take place shortly after that.

We will activate CapWiz in the coming days to generate key messages from our membership on our entire portfolio of legislative priorities.


Take Action

There has been a flurry of activity at the Rhode Island State House as members of the General Assembly work to wrap up the 2013 legislative session by tomorrow, 

But you can still have an impact! Here are a few key issues we are asking you to take action on today!

Take Action: Expansion of Temporary Disability Insurance

A a proposed expansion of the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) – which would allow workers to receive paid leave to act as a temporary caregiver -- is still very much a threat. If you have not done so already, please contact your State Representative TODAY and let them know that enacting this legislation sends the wrong message regarding improving Rhode Island’s business climate.

Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states that offers Temporary Disability Insurance to workers. Expanding this program will certainly result in an increased tax burden for the state’s workforce, in addition to requiring employers to sustain absenteeism and unmet labor needs – all during a time when the state’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the nation.

Click here to oppose expansion of RI Temporary Disability Insurance

Take Action: Definition of an Independent Contractor
If this legislation passes, employers will be faced with applying two different, inconsistent standards to determine whether a particular worker can lawfully be treated as an independent contractor – the IRS guidelines for federal withholding and this new, state specific standard, for state withholding and employment security. It truly will be a trap for unsuspecting employers.

Click here to oppose changing the definition of an Independent Contractor

Take Action: Biweekly Pay
Rhode Island is one of very few states to require its private businesses to pay hourly workers on a weekly basis.  Urge RI lawmakers to permit business to pay employees biweekly.

Click here to support Biweekly Pay

Click here to see the Chamber's full policy agenda

Providence entrepreneur rocks it with the Oracle of Omaha

Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Creates Entrepreneur Web Portal showcases RI as the hottest start-up community in the Greater Boston Region

Rhode Island and Providence have a new tool for unleashing and bolstering entrepreneurial potential –  

The first of its kind web portal in the state, created and populated by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the site is designed specifically to support the development of high growth firms by providing key information on resources, educational opportunities, funding sources, and overall connectivity in and around Providence. Deep with data about Rhode Island, its idea makers, its knowledge assets and its entrepreneurial ecosystem, the site serves as an important connection point for the individuals, organizations and institutions driving knowledge development locally.

Since launching in May, the site has attracted more than 1,600 unique visitors (as of October 20, 2013), with the most popular content being "incubator spaces" and the "guest blogging" feature. A daily social media news feed gives visitors an up to the minute pulse on the region. We also post fun success stories from local entrepreneurs. As an example, this week we featured the story of Sproutel founder Hannah Chung and her big day with iconic investor Warren Buffett.  Hannah and Jerry the Bear won Fortune's Perfect Pitch contest. 

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to see new, expanding and innovative markets, create jobs, contribute to the tax base,” said Chamber President Laurie White. “We see a real value in innovative ideas and want to make sure that those who work to create successful businesses around those ideas have the tools and knowledge to be successful. This site is the private sector investing in and supporting economic development around entrepreneurship.”

The site is also a critical tool in expanding Rhode Island’s innovation market. Only 50 miles south of Boston, Providence is fast becoming an increasingly integral part of the Greater Boston regional economy. Many local entrepreneurs talk about Providence being the "hottest start-up community in the Greater Boston region," where launching a venture can be faster and easier because of the state’s small size, networks and expertise.

 “Rhode Island, and Providence, has an entrepreneurial mindset. We need to shout this idea from the rooftops,” said Chamber President Laurie White. “I truly believe this site will create a stickiness that will bring more idea makers to our door.”

The Garage Growth Stories

More than 50 growth companies shared optimism and inspiration to hundreds of business professionals at The Garage. The first ever “mash-up” of ideas and innovation held at the Rhode Island Convention Center highlighted sectors of the Rhode Island economy that are growing and the people that are driving that growth. 

With a combination of start-ups, emerging companies and established business both participating and attending, the event served to highlight the vibrant economic activity taking place in Rhode Island. 

Click here see highlights of the day’s event.

Thank you to all that participated, attended and supported this private-sector led economic development event.

We will work to keep this important conversation going. Watch in the weeks ahead as we share some of the positive stories, collaborations and new ideas to come out of The Garage.

If you have a positive story to share from the day's events, or a growth story you think is important to tell, please email us at 

The Garage Web Site

Have you been to

The new site, designed and powered by the ADK Group, provides real time information on all things happening at The Garage, a private sector led event that will take over the Rhode Island Convention Center on May 14th.  From a schedule of events, to a list of participants, and stories of companies who will be highlighted during the event… the site is designed not only to provide visitors with a snapshot of what is happening but serve as a platform for sharing the knowledge, expertise and growth that exists in the Rhode Island business community.

What can you find at

Schedule of Events
A full listing of what is happening; where it is happening and how participants can register

The Sectors
Information about the key industry sectors to be highlighted at this event including – Health and Wellness; Lifescience and Medtech; and Consumer Products

Meet some of the growth companies who will share their stories on May 14.

See a full list of participating companies – this includes panelists, presenters, sponsors and attendees. Is your company on that list?

Secure your place!

Breaking news about presenters, topics and guests!

Recognition of local companies that have made an investment in the event.

Tell us your growth story!



Drawing its name from the start-up ingenuity in Silicon Valley that led to the creation of companies like Apple, Google and others, The Garage will be the place where the private sector will create a mash-up of all good things happening in the local business community. Revenue generating companies will share their success stories and best practices in an effort to inspire, cross-pollinate and grow key economic sectors.  Bank of America serves as the event’s Presenting Sponsor.

Be sure to follow the conversation on social media channels as well. Like The Garage on Facebook at Follow The Garage on Twitter - @thegarage13


The Garage                             RI’s Biz Growth Stories

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is calling on Rhode Island growth companies to tell their story at The Garage.

Drawing its name from the start-up ingenuity in Silicon Valley that led to the creation of companies like Apple, Google and others, The Garage will be the place where the private sector will create a mash-up of all good things happening in the local business community.

Revenue generating companies will share their success stories and best practices in an effort to inspire, cross-pollinate and grow key economic sectors. This first event, which will take place on Tuesday, May 14 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, will focus on the key industries of consumer products, health care, food, nutrition, and wellness.

“The event is all about storytelling,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “We want to showcase companies here in Rhode Island where innovation is a central strategy, where management is committed to expansion and where financing aligns with a business plan.”

The half day event will begin with the Economic Outlook Luncheon, and will be followed by five panel discussions, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition and then culminating with a networking reception.

For more information visit

Big Idea For RI: Neuroscience research & clinical care

Tonight, I would like to put forth a new idea -- a big idea -- that the Senate can get behind, get excited about, and get others excited about. We have talked for more than a year now about the development of a joint nursing education building in the Knowledge District hosted by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Well, I challenge all of us to think even bigger and more inclusively.

Let’s get behind the creation of an all-encompassing Health Sciences Facility. In addition to the medical education component, think about a public/private partnership that unites growth companies, universities, colleges, hospitals, researchers, students, investors and others. Picture a sprawling campus. A place that fosters easy collaboration between and among scientists from a wide range of disciplines solving some of the most pressing medical challenges of our day.

The Health Sciences Facility could give focus to a particular area of expertise for Rhode Island--- brain science, the last frontier in modern medicine. Rhode Island is home to world-class talent across a gamut of institutions. Brown University and its affiliated hospitals in the Lifespan and Care New England systems as well as the Providence VA Medical Center are deeply immersed in research and clinical care centered on brain injuries and disorders. Each partner brings specific expertise to the forefront, including specialties in adult and pediatric psychiatry, neurology, neurosurgery, diagnostic radiology, neurotechnology and neuroregeneration. The University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy brings similar nationally-recognized talent in drug therapy to complement the intellectual capacity.

Here’s the vision: Let’s brand Rhode Island as a leader in neuroscience and attract attention locally, regionally and nationally. The Chamber is convinced that realizing this vision would create an academic environment that would be extremely attractive to new healthcare-related companies and start-ups.  Brown’s particular strength in developing devices and interfaces with the brain should be a compelling draw for medical device companies. The Center of Excellence, most importantly, would improve clinical care and outcomes for patients suffering from debilitating neurological diseases and conditions.

Linking science, engineering and medicine around this opportunity would be an exciting economic development venture for Rhode Island. On a national scale, medical professionals are increasingly concerned and focused on addressing age-specific disorders in response to our aging population in the United States. Rhode Island currently ranks 4th in the nation, per capita, in terms of the percentage of elderly in our population. As a result, it is critically important for us to focus our attention on the discovery and development of new therapies aimed at slowing the progression of key neurodegenerative diseases that affect older adults, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease among others.

Brain science and brain health in Rhode Island. A national leader and a Center of Excellence in neuroscience research and clinical care. Let’s seize the opportunity, let’s invest in the opportunity.

The Founders League - Power in Collaboration!

There is Power in Collaboration!

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is excited to be joining with Betaspring, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island to invest in, and support the state’s latest entrepreneurial platform -- the Founders League.

Building upon programming initially launched by the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Founders League will offer community, space and programming where entrepreneurs at all stages of development can find inspiration and support. The Chamber has invested $100,000 in the new venture.

“We are excited to work with this consortium to drive forward the next generation of entrepreneurship programming in Rhode Island,” says Board Chairman Jon Duffy. “This initiative is a bull’s eye in the Chamber’s strategic plan, which is centered around fueling entrepreneurial and small business growth and developing the state’s Knowledge Economy. The overwhelming support from the Board and general membership for this effort only serves to echo the mindset that startups, students and entrepreneurs are a critical part of the Rhode Island economy.”

Over the next 12-weeks, the partners will convene groups of entrepreneurs, mentors and community partners to solicit input on how the platform can be deployed to support the sustained growth of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rhode Island.

Betaspring will provide leadership for the platform and a physical nexus for the activity at their 95 Chestnut Street headquarters. Beginning this fall, Betaspring will roll-out a mix of entrepreneur-centric activities, such as community co-working, educational programming and networking events, as well as oversee a planning process to establish the platform’s long-term operating plan. The process to establish an operating plan will be led by a steering committee of representatives from the partner organizations and leaders from the entrepreneur community.

Click below to read media coverage of this exciting announcement.

Providence Journal 

Mass High Tech 

Business Week 


Fed Bank of Boston Pres & CEO Keynotes Policy Forum

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President and CEO Eric Rosengren delivered a generally optimistic economic outlook for 2013 during the GPCC Policy Forum held Tuesday, January 15th at the Providence Marriott Downtown.  Rosengren told that crowd of more than 100 that early 2013 is being bolstered by a stronger housing market and robust consumer spending. He expects this trend to continue, even predicting that growth will hit 3 percent in the second half of the year.

Click here to read media coverage of the event and follow the Twitter feed.

The Policy Forum was sponsored by Coastway Bank.

Prepare Your Business and Employees for the Flu

Rhode Island isn’t immune to the spreading nationwide flu epidemic.  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we are one of the 47 states to have a “widespread” outbreak of the contagious disease.

A recent survey conducted by Walgreens suggests that nearly 100 million workdays are lost due to the flu -- that equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity. With this year’s strain effecting so many, those estimates are expected to go even higher.

And as with any emergency situation, having a contingency plan is essential.

What can you do to protect your business and employees?

  • Stay informed. Click here to get up to date information on Rhode Island’s outbreak.
  • Encourage your employees to get flu shots. It’s not too late. Click here to find out where vaccinations are being offered.
  • Prevent the spread of the flu 
    • Wash your hands often
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow
    • Stay home if you are sick
  • Be more flexible with sick time
    •  Ease policies for employee compensation and sick-leave absences unique to the pandemic (e.g. non-punitive, liberal leave), including policies on when a previously ill person is no longer infectious and can return to work after illness.
    • Establish policies for flexible a worksite (e.g. telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g. staggered shifts).

Click on these links for more information about the flu outbreak and your business.

Rhode Island Department of Health -

Center for Disease Control and Prevention -

Additional government information -

Business planning information -

GPCC's FREE prescription drug discount program, the RIRx Card, offers savings on numerous medications to the uninsured, under-insured and compliments the benefits offered the insured. 

FLU SEASON MED DISCOUNTED with RIRx CARD: Card holders are saving $24 on their Amoxicillin K/CLAV 875mg 14qt (Generic Augmentin) Retail Price: $42.99; Discounted Price: $18.67.

ALSO, discounts on often uncovered flu prescriptions such as Tamiflu, Sulfa/Tmz (Generic Bactrim DS), Azithromycin Tab 500mg, Ciproflaxin 500mg, Doxycycline HCL 500mg.

Visit to download your FREE prescription drug discount card.

Buy Local RI ~ Main Street’s Economic Recovery Plan

Rhode Island is small, yet its resources are abundant and due to its size --easily accessible.  From farms to main street boutiques, reap the harvest of Rhode Island's local and independently owned businesses.

Purchasing local goods injects much needed revenue into every community statewide, with Rhode Islanders benefiting from returns on these local investments.  According to the 10% Shift initiative, even redirecting 10% of typical spending can provide a valuable boost to local economies.  Building community support translates into economic viability statewide where Rhode Island as a whole benefits from the profits generated by locally owned businesses.

Buy Local Resources:

Buy Local RI’s mission is to build a strong economy and vibrant community by promoting locally owned independent businesses, strengthening our state’s merchant and commercial associations, and providing a unified public resource where businesses and individuals can find and connect to local products and services.

Farm Fresh RI, connects Rhode Islanders to fresh and locally grown agricultural products at farmers markets and restaurants across the state.

Edible Rhody profiles the growing community of local establishments serving the bounty from Rhode Island farms and fisheries.

Many Rhode Island communities offer regular farmers’ markets and local buying initiatives to motivate local commerce. The impact of these initiatives multiplies throughout the state, from the local producers, to the local vendors, and finally to Main Streets within every community.