Don’t Miss Out on the Chamber’s 2014 Annual Meeting
The Greater Providence Chamber's 2014 Annual Meeting is less than a week away. Don't miss the opportunity to join many of Rhode Island's top business and civic leaders at one of the key events of the year.

When: Monday, November 24 from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Where: RI Convention Center, One Sabin Street, Providence

We are pleased to feature Bruce Van Saun, chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group as this year's Annual Meeting keynote speaker. Mr. Van Saun will share his perspective on how financial institutions will continue to make meaningful contributions to economic growth and vitality in the communities they serve and how they will continue to gain the confidence of their customers and stakeholders. Mr. Van Saun will also discuss Citizens’ recent IPO as well as the bank’s impact on and commitment to Rhode Island and the region.

The evening will also include brief remarks by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Providence Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza, Bernie Szachara, new interim publisher of The Providence Journal, Jon Duffy, outgoing Chair of the Chamber's Board of Directors, and Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and new incoming Chamber Chair.

To find out more or to register click here.


Referenda Questions 4, 5, 6 and 7 Approved by Wide Margins

Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Says Passage of RI Bond Measures Key to Strengthening Economy

PROVIDENCE, RI (November 5, 2014) - Rhode Islanders voted yesterday to approve all four bond measures that were on the ballot on Election Day.

In September, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support the four bond questions, and the Chamber worked with our many partners to advocate for their passage.

Citing the importance of investing in the state’s education and infrastructure, business leaders from around the state agreed that the bond questions would move Rhode Island forward and make the state more competitive.

“With the passage of these critical bond questions, Rhode Island will continue to be focused on fiscally responsible investment aimed at helping to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and improve our state’s business climate. These bond measures will move the needle forward and support efforts to improve our education system, workforce training, and overall infrastructure,” said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Laurie White continued, “In particular, the Chamber has consistently supported the state’s investment in the URI engineering school, as the project will be a boon for Rhode Island’s state university system, for students and for local businesses looking to hire top-notch engineers. We thank Rhode Islanders for supporting all four bond questions.”

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce supported the following bond questions: 

  • Question 4: Higher Education Facilities Bond for the construction of a new College of Engineering building at URI.
  • Question 5: Creative and Cultural Economy Bond to fund capital improvement, preservation and renovation projects of Rhode Island Arts organizations.
  • Question 6: Mass Transit Hub Infrastructure Bond to fund enhancements and renovations to mass transit hubs.
  • Question 7: Clean Water, Open Space, and Healthy Communities Bonds 

For more on the 2014 RI election results, visit the Chamber’s Election Round-up Page

 

Find the Latest in Election Day Results

2014 RI Election Results Round-Up

For the latest in Election Day results, check out the following links:
 

Providence Journal - http://www.providencejournal.com/politics/general-election/2014/

GoLocalProv - http://www.golocalprov.com/

WPRI 12 - http://wpri.com/election-results/

NBC 10 - http://www.turnto10.com/category/287699/election-returns

ABC 6 - http://ww.abc6.com/category/272937/election-2014

WPRO - http://www.630wpro.com/

RI Public Radio - http://ripr.org/

WHJJ - http://www.920whjj.com/main.html

RI Board of Elections - http://www.ri.gov/election/results/2014/general_election/

RI Secretary of State - http://sos.ri.gov/elections/

Vote “Yes” in Support of Referenda Questions 4, 5, 6 and 7

Keep on building!

Voters, we need your support.

 

By Laurie White, president, GPCC, and Michael Sabitoni, president, RI Building and Construction Trades Council

 

By now, you have read a great deal about the people and the issues on the November 4th ballot. There’s a lot to learn and digest. Do the candidates’ ideas for an energized economy acknowledge that disruptive innovation is leaving the quaint and the nostalgic in its wake? Are they willing to challenge Rhode Islanders to move faster, smarter, stronger? Worldwide commerce offers up many options for the aggressive and the discerning. That’s why we think it so important to lay down investments in the citizens and supports that can accelerate real economic change here at home.

 

The building/construction trades and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce have partnered on many significant issues over the last several years, including airport expansion, knowledge district development, workforce preparedness and higher education. Today, we are furthering our partnership and actively working to encourage our respective constituencies and our neighbors to pay attention to the power of the ballot. Here are a few reasons why we are being vocal about the questions four, five, six and seven.

 

Question 4 asks voters to continue to invest in our flagship research institution, the University of Rhode Island and its College of Engineering. Public higher education is the great economic equalizer. We couldn’t be more proud to stand behind efforts to provide students with the classroom, laboratories and research facilities they deserve. Since 2003, the College of Engineering has increased enrollment by 39 percent. Yet the buildings are antiquated and inadequate. They haven’t been upgraded since they were first built in the 1940s. We applaud URI’s ability to plod along on limited resources, but the string has run out. Modern day investment is needed, unequivocally, to match those competitors who want to poach our best student and faculty talent.

 

Roughly 70 percent of the engineering majors in the Class of 2014 are from Rhode Island. As knowledge economy workers, they will have the ability to land jobs anywhere in the world. The demand is strong among local employers for an even greater supply of talent. In fact, one high profile advanced manufacturer commented to us recently that Rhode Island has “no chance of being a technology state” without passage of this crucial appropriation. Approval of question 4 will ensure that URI has great learning spaces, excellent students, top-tier faculty and a plentiful pipeline of talent that will drive our companies’ competitiveness. And the multiplier effect goes even deeper with the resulting construction jobs for local workers and craftspeople.

 

And to those who wonder who else has skin in the game, this bond has the highest private industry support of any higher education bond in Rhode Island, with more than 30 major Rhode Island companies pledging their support.  The College of Engineering has set a $20 million private fundraising goal for this project, and more than $8 million has already been raised in private support, contingent on the passage of the bond.

 

Question 5 asks voters to support improvements and construction to arts and preservation sites in and around our state. The nine organizations named in the bond, alone, account for nearly $200 million in annual commercial activity. Saying “yes on 5” will yield approximately 600 non-construction jobs, 600 construction jobs and $47 million in new activity. The arts are not a luxury; they are a necessity. Rhode Island has so fervently embraced the arts that many facets of our local economy now depend on the arts infrastructure to survive. And the new breed of talent that surrounds high growth companies is increasingly attracted places that are not cookie cutter, not homogenous. The arts provide diversity, distinction and texture. They are an economic generator and a community differentiator.

 

Question 6 asks voters to approve borrowing to improve our mass transit. Think about the great cities of this world. A common element is sleek, safe and modern public transportation. Whether it is train, bus, trolley or tram, those residents and visitors gravitate to it. Young workers, in particular, enjoy the ease of getting from place to place and living a “car-less” existence. Our city-state has some work to do in order to be a national model, that’s why we have no time to waste in getting on with it. Approval of Question 6 will allow the State to leverage federal monies to make the upgrade faster. Transit has the ability to move economies. So in that spirit, let’s move Rhode Island forward.

 

Question 7 asks voters to invest in clean water and open space: farms, zoos, beaches, parks and coastal habitats. Environmental upgrades will make us better stewards of Narragansett Bay and land masses that have been degraded by carelessness will be put back into productive use ---- all of which is good economics.

 

We urge you to look favorably upon this compelling package of public investments. Check out what other places across the United States are doing to make their destinations stand out. In many cases, it is investing in infrastructure. You can picture it. Cranes in the sky and people on the job.

 

Rhode Island has a dazzling array of assets.  Cast your vote in favor of improving them. 

Learn More About Where RI Candidates Stand on Economic Issues

PROVIDENCE, RI – (September 3, 2014) As the largest business advocacy organization in Rhode Island, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce today continued to add to the 2014 election resource launched last month. Building on the business and economy-focused questionnaires released from the statewide candidates and General Assembly candidates, the Chamber today released responses from candidates running for Mayor in Providence

“With less than one week to Primary Day, we urge voters in Providence and across the state to be informed and vote. With still one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, our leaders in 2015 must have a plan to improve our state’s economy, grow and attract businesses, create jobs, and ensure our workforce is educated and prepared to work. While this is the first step in an ongoing dialogue with the candidates on these issues, we urge voters to take a hard look at each candidate’s position before Primary Day,” said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Check out where Rhode Island candidates stand on economic issues.

In its inaugural year, the Chamber’s questionnaire requests the candidates’ positions on issues related to our city and state’s economic growth. From taxation to regulation to education to economic development, the questionnaires are meant to help Rhode Islanders educate themselves on where the candidates stand on issues that will impact our economy in the near future. The Chamber’s Providence Mayoral questionnaire built upon a comprehensive questionnaire created by the Providence Foundation earlier this summer.

The Chamber has a neutrality policy and will not be endorsing.

Join the conversation on Twitter at #EconomyNowRI. Save the Date for the upcoming Providence Mayoral Forum on October 15th at 8am and the Gubernatorial Policy Forum on October 31 at 8am.

###

New Questionnaire Provides Insight into Differences Between RI Statewide Candidates

PROVIDENCE, RI (August 20, 2014) – As the largest business advocacy organization in Rhode Island, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce today announced a new resource for voters across the state to better understand where the candidates for statewide office stand on a variety of issues critical to the Ocean State’s economic recovery. In its inaugural year, the Chamber’s candidate questionnaire was sent to all statewide candidates, requesting positions on 10 issues from the 2010 personal income tax reform, the state’s unemployment benefit structure, temporary disability insurance, 38 Studios and more. The 2014 candidate surveys can be accessed at www.providencechamber.com/races/2014-statewide-races.

“With still one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Rhode Islanders can agree that our leaders in 2015 must have a plan to improve our state’s economy, grow and attract businesses, create jobs, and ensure our workforce is educated and prepared to work,” said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “That’s why the Chamber is pushing candidates for office to clarify their positions on economic issues and highlighting the differences between candidates. With all the major candidates for governor and the majority of candidates in the remaining four statewide races responding we urge voters to take a hard look at each candidate’s position before Primary Day.”

Read the candidates’ responses now.

“While many of the candidates were unwilling to provide definitive yes/no answers to all of the questions, we are very pleased at the overall willingness of the candidates to respond and share their comments and ideas. This is the first step in an ongoing dialogue with the candidates on these issues, and we look forward to continuing the discussion. Rhode Island has a lot of work to do to improve our economy and increase opportunities for businesses and residents alike. We hope this information will provide Rhode Islanders with additional clarity on the differences between the candidates and help spur conversation on efforts to improve the economy now,” White concluded.

The Chamber is also expected to release candidate questionnaires next week for General Assembly candidates running opposed in the primary and Providence Mayoral candidates. All candidate responses will be located here.

The Chamber has a neutrality policy and will not be endorsing.

Join the conversation on Twitter at #EconomyNowRI. Save the Date for the upcoming Gubernatorial Policy Forum on October 31 at 8am.

###

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: ITIF.org

CHAMBER ADVOCACY: RI Governor Signs Pro-Business, Pro-Economic Recovery Budget

(June 19, 2014) PROVIDENCE, RI – Following Governor Chafee’s signing of the FY 2015 budget this afternoon, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce praised Rhode Island lawmakers for passing a pro-business, pro-economic recovery, pro-job creation budget.

“With the FY 2015 budget, the Rhode Island General Assembly has put our state on a better path for attracting and retaining business, creating jobs, and improving our economy. With the reduction in the corporate tax rate, Rhode Island goes from having one of the highest rates to the lowest in New England, making the Ocean State significantly more competitive. Additionally, the elimination of the estate tax cliff and investments in bold economic development projects will benefit Rhode Island’s recovery,” said Laurie White, President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

“When it comes to getting Rhode Island back on track, this may be only one piece of the puzzle, but it marks real progress and highlights a commitment to get things done. We thank Senate President Paiva Weed, Speaker Mattiello, and the Senate and House Finance Committees for helping to secure these reforms for Rhode Island,” White concluded.

The budget includes many of the priorities that the Chamber of Commerce laid out earlier this year. Among other things, the budget:

  • Lowers the corporate income tax rate from 9% to 7% and enacts combined reporting using the single factor of sales;
  • Eliminates the estate tax cliff and increases the exemption to $1.5 million;
  • Strengthens job and skill training by exempting the Job Development Fund from indirect cost recovery;
  • Restructures the immunization assessments so that self-insured companies as well as fully insured company pay the assessment to fund the Childhood and Adult Immunization Program and the Children’s Health Program Account;
  • Includes the necessary funding and approval of the lease agreement for the shared Nursing Education Center to move forward;
  • Provides for a general obligation referendum of $125 million for the URI engineering school;
  • Contains provisions for the issuance of debt to fund the Garrahy garage project; and
  • Provides the funding for the repayment of the 38 Studios obligation, through the Department of Administration.

###

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.

CHAMBER ADVOCACY: Proposed House Budget Puts Economic Recovery at the Forefront

June 6, 2014

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce this morning praised the proposed 2015 budget approved by the House Finance Committee last night. Citing the reduction in the corporate tax rate, the elimination of the estate tax cliff, and investments in the shared Nursing Education Center and other projects, the Chamber applauded Speaker Mattiello and House leaders for their commitment to Rhode Island’s economic recovery.

“Many of the reforms and investments included in the House budget will help Rhode Island improve its business climate, strengthen economic development efforts, and get Rhode Islanders back to work,” said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “We are pleased to see clear action being taken by Speaker Mattiello and House lawmakers to keep our economic recovery at the forefront and to move Rhode Island forward. We urge the House to pass this bill and send it to the Senate for approval.”

The House budget proposal includes many of the priorities that the Chamber of Commerce laid out earlier this year. Among other things, the House budget:

• Lowers the corporate income tax rate from 9% to 7% and enacts combined reporting using the single factor of sales;
• Eliminates the estate tax cliff and increases the exemption to $1.5 million;
• Includes the necessary funding and approval of the lease agreement for the shared Nursing Education Center to move forward;
• Provides for a general obligation referendum of $125 million for the URI engineering school;
• Contains provisions for the issuance of debt to fund the Garrahy garage project; and
• Provides the funding for the repayment of the 38 Studios obligation, through the Department of Administration.

###

CHAMBER MEMBERS: More than 70 RI Businesses Celebrated at 20th Annual Worksite Health Awards

PROVIDENCE, RI (May 28, 2014) – 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) together with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) distributed Worksite Health Awards to more than 70 local businesses. At the 20th Annual Worksite Health Awards ceremony, over 300 members of the business community were joined by firefighter turned health activist Rip Esselstyn to celebrate efforts to support thousands of local employees and their families in making healthier decisions. Learn more about the companies highlighted at the event in this month’s Rhode Island Monthly Worksite Health Award Special Insert.

“For the last twenty years, our Worksite Health Award winners have shown that health and fitness are essential components of a stronger workforce,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president & CEO of BCBSRI. “BCBSRI commends these organizations for finding smart, creative ways to implement wellness programs. They serve as bright examples of health and productivity for our entire community.”

“Twenty years after launching the Worksite Health Awards, we remain awed by the hard work and commitment of those who go through this process. We continue to see proof of the positive impact worksite wellness can have on employees and employers. By increasing morale and production, and decreasing healthcare costs and sick leave, worksite health programs are a win for all involved. We are once again delighted to partner with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to recognize more than 70 local businesses and hopefully inspire even more Rhode Island companies to join the program next year,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve seen firsthand the life-changing impact that a supportive work community can have on people's health,” said Rip Esselstyn, keynote speaker and author of The Engine 2 Diet. “We should commend today’s honorees for taking real steps to support their employees’ wellness, and I hope this celebration prompts us all think more about lifestyle changes we can make at work and at home.”

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

CHAMBER ECONOMY: City of Providence Asks “What Are You Waiting For?”

The City of Providence recently launched a new economic development video to showcase what local business and university leaders are saying about Providence and why businesses should consider relocating to or expanding in Rhode Island's capital city.

Watch here: http://providenceri.com/economic-development/watch-our-video

CHAMBER PRIDE: Economic Development Visibility

Providence has style and spirit, a sexy vibe and a foodie's lure. See what Architectural Digest has to say about America's best small city. It is an apt tribute to a place that is home to the world's number one design school and some of the best cultural tourism around. 

CHAMBER INSIGHTS: Employer Engagement Taking Bite Out of Medical Inflation

Defying historical patterns—and placing added tension on the health industry—medical inflation in 2014 will dip even lower than in 2013. Check out this interesting analysis by Price Waterhouse Coopers on medical inflation costs and who has the leverage to exert change. 

Meanwhile, one of the major drivers of consumer health care expense is prescription drugs. Employers can join with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce in passing along the benefits of usng the Rhode Island Rx Drug Card to fill in the gaps in drug coverage. The card is free and can be utilized by everyone -- with or without coverage. Download it here.

CHAMBER BUSINESSES: Two Very Exciting Announcements

West Coast Project.  Deepwater Wind is announcing that it will be developing the first offshore wind off the west coast of the US.  Several months ago, DWW reached an agreement with Principle Power, a US company working on a wind farm proposed off the coast of Oregon, to team up with them to complete the development of that project.  

Deepwater will manage the commercial and development aspects of the project and Principle Power will supply their cutting-edge foundation technology. According to company officials, this project is notable because it will be the first offshore wind farm in the world to use "floating" foundations that are not affixed to the ocean floor (in addition to being the first planned for the west coast).  Floating foundations are necessary because the Pacific coast waters are far deeper than the east coast.  

The Oregon project is planned to be located in 1,000 feet of water, compared to the 90 feet of water for the Block Island project.  On May 7, the US DOE announced that the Oregon project will receive a substantial matching funds grant to support its development and construction.  This project is several years behind the Block Island project in development, but is complementary to the Rhode Island project as it also will be a demonstration project for the west coast.

"This is an important step for Deepwater, as we successfully build a portfolio of projects across the country and across different technologies," said DWW President Jeff Grybowski. "WE REMAIN A RHODE ISLAND COMPANY with our management and staff located in Providence.  This project only strengthens our company's long-term prospects.  The Block Island Wind Farm and the larger utility-scale project in federal waters off the Rhode Island coast remain our top priorities.  We are building a series of projects, while basing our operations out of Providence.  This is good news all around, as we will need to staff up locally to manage the local projects along with our expanding portfolio of projects in other regions."

Right Whale Agreement. Deepwater and major national environmental and conservation organizations have forged an agreement that applies to the large project off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (Deepwater ONE) to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and other marine mammals.  Signatories to the agreement include Conservation Law Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, and the NRDC.  Under this agreement, Deepwater has voluntarily agreed to implement a number of procedures that are more stringent than existing regulatory requirements.  These procedures apply to the site assessment and characterization phases of project development, including restrictions on the time of year that pile driving and the use of certain sonar equipment may occur, as well as requirements on vessel speed limits, marine mammal observers on vessels, and other conditions.

The Chamber has long supported Rhode Island's efforts to site the nation's first off-shore wind farm in Rhode Island Sound.

CHAMBER ADVOCACY: A Workforce Imperative For Tomorrow

As debate turns to graduation requirements and common core elements for college and career readiness, the Chamber has some serious thoughts to share.

The growing skills gap in Rhode Island and the state’s pernicious unemployment rate are evidence that too many Rhode Island students are being left behind in today’s knowledge economy.Standards, testing and evaluation are mainstream concepts in the workplace. Isn’t it more advantageous for our youngsters to understand that earlier – when underperformance is correctable – rather than later when it’s too expensive and potentially not even possible to ever catch up? Embrace rigor. Rhode Island’s future economic development depends on it.

Convey your opposition to eroding educational rigor to Senate President Teresa Paiva Week and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. 

Learn more about the Chamber’s advocacy work.

What are your employees doing to challenge themselves to stay fit?

How to stay fit, healthy and fully pumped to do your very best work?  Get ready to find out. 

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to sponsor the Worksite Wellness Awards on May 28. We want to recognize the employers and employees who are changing the future of business in our state. 

When we read about the different wellness programs that our winners offered, we thought they seemed organized, comprehensive—and just plain fun. Walking meetings. Hula hooping classes. Cooking demonstrations. And that’s just to name a few! Workplace wellness programs were just getting off the ground 20 years ago, when we introduced the Worksite Health Awards. This year, we are honoring 71 businesses for their programs.

What’s the reason for the change? Numerous studies have shown the value of worksite wellness, and local employers have also seen the effects firsthand. Healthier employees mean improved morale, lower healthcare costs, and reduced absenteeism. That’s what every employer wants.

Highway Trust Fund Going Broke Is Bad For Business

Dear Members of Congress:

 

Transportation infrastructure investments in our metropolitan regions are key to America’s long-term economic competitiveness.  That’s why leaders of metropolitan regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations from across the country urge you to address the impending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.  

 

Without a sustainable source of revenue, the Trust Fund will be in a deep deficit that will require major cuts in federal highway and transit funding or a potential halt of the entire federal transportation program.  Indeed, many states have already halted certain projects in anticipation of such cuts. We need your support to ensure the viability of this critical component of the nation’s economy, including its ability to accelerate the all too slow recovery of the jobs lost since the onset of the deep recession that started in 2008.

 

We are all members of the Metro Cities Council at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and we represent businesses of all sizes that form the backbone of the nation’s economy.  Our business members know a reliable and resilient transportation network is vital to construction employment, getting other workers to their jobs, ensuring efficient and timely freight delivery, and providing residents with an outstanding quality of life, which is critical to attracting a talented workforce.   

 

Municipalities, counties, and states across the country are stepping up to identify sources of additional transportation revenue.  However, without a strong federal partner, we will not be able to meet the demands of maintaining and expanding our transportation systems on which robust national and local economies depend.   

 

As Congress considers reauthorization of MAP-21 over the next several months, we urge you to address both the federal funding shortfall and the impediments to empowering metropolitan regions to advance locally-driven innovative solutions to our transportation challenges.

 

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance who is representing all of the organizations listed below on this communication.  Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark Eagan, President and CEO, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel, President and CEO, MetroHartford Alliance

Joe Roman, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Cleveland Partnership

Ralph Schulz, President, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce 

Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Laurie White, President and CEO, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

Highway Trust Fund Going Broke Is Bad For Business

Dear Members of Congress:

 

Transportation infrastructure investments in our metropolitan regions are key to America’s long-term economic competitiveness.  That’s why leaders of metropolitan regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations from across the country urge you to address the impending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.  

 

Without a sustainable source of revenue, the Trust Fund will be in a deep deficit that will require major cuts in federal highway and transit funding or a potential halt of the entire federal transportation program.  Indeed, many states have already halted certain projects in anticipation of such cuts. We need your support to ensure the viability of this critical component of the nation’s economy, including its ability to accelerate the all too slow recovery of the jobs lost since the onset of the deep recession that started in 2008.

 

We are all members of the Metro Cities Council at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and we represent businesses of all sizes that form the backbone of the nation’s economy.  Our business members know a reliable and resilient transportation network is vital to construction employment, getting other workers to their jobs, ensuring efficient and timely freight delivery, and providing residents with an outstanding quality of life, which is critical to attracting a talented workforce.   

 

Municipalities, counties, and states across the country are stepping up to identify sources of additional transportation revenue.  However, without a strong federal partner, we will not be able to meet the demands of maintaining and expanding our transportation systems on which robust national and local economies depend.   

 

As Congress considers reauthorization of MAP-21 over the next several months, we urge you to address both the federal funding shortfall and the impediments to empowering metropolitan regions to advance locally-driven innovative solutions to our transportation challenges.

 

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance who is representing all of the organizations listed below on this communication.  Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark Eagan, President and CEO, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel, President and CEO, MetroHartford Alliance

Joe Roman, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Cleveland Partnership

Ralph Schulz, President, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce 

Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Laurie White, President and CEO, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

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.

How aggressive will he be on the economy?

Newly-elected Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello will provide his first public comments to the broader business community at a special breakfast forum on Wednesday April 16. 

Please join us to congratulate Speaker Mattiello and engage in a discussion on key initiatives of the Chamber and ways we can accelerate the economic development agenda in Rhode Island.

April 16th 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Providence Marriott Hotel, Orms Street

Co-sponsored with Spurwink RI and the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island

Congressional leaders key in on business issues

A new format played out this morning at the Chamber’s Annual Congressional Breakfast with four business and academic leaders joining on stage to pose questions to the delegation on topics including flood insurance, immigration, tax reform and higher education.

Barbara Cottam, executive vice president of RBS Citizens, led off the guest questioners. She queried the delegation on the bipartisan fix to the National Flood Insurance Program, noting that skyrocketing premiums had been hurting real estate owners and hindering sales potential. She wondered if the fix was going to be sufficient for the long term. Approximately 16,000 Rhode Islanders hold NFIP policies. 

Barbara Bennett, senior vice president at Johnson and Wales University, keyed in on a controversial proposal by president Obama to tie all federal financial aid programs to a rating system of colleges on affordability, student completion rates and the earnings of graduates. The delegation was lukewarm on the concept.

Pat Thompson, CPA from Piccerelli & Gilstein, initiated a lengthy discussion on tax reform, with the delegation in agreement that the present system does nothing to reward investment, is not evenly applied and hurts small business. They observed, however, that reform legislation is highly unlikely to emerge from Congress this year.

Hamzah Ansari, entrepreneur-in-residence at Brown University and CEO of tech company Accelereach, implored the delegation to continue to work to advance comprehensive immigration reform.  The lawmakers predicted that a bill could be sprung this year and urged attendees to lobby Congress for a discharge petition to get around the staunchly anti-immigration views of a small but powerful voting bloc.

Other matters covered during the 90-minute discussion included observations on the Affordable Care Act, replenishing the highway trust fund, sparking commercial innovation through more robust federal research funding, obliterating patent trolls and the use of workforce training dollars.

The Chamber thanks Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline and Congressman Langevin for engaging with the business community. The event’s presenting sponsor was RBS Citizens. 

THANK YOU!

Growth, Prosperity and Opportunity

Check out photos from the garage

Participants in The Garage represented a carefully curated list of two dozen businesses chosen by local business leaders in specific industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, consumer products, innovative IT and university spin-offs.

Topics covered included:

 

  1. What led your company to that all important aha moment which ultimately redefined your business strategy and put you into a growth mode?

 

  1. Getting into growth mode involves recognizing and seizing a precise market opportunity.  How can business professionals develop their own ability to “see around corners” in order to grow?

 

  1. Along the way, what was your biggest mistake, set back or frustration? How did you maneuver around it? Any lessons learned?

 

“Providing information, insights and seemingly random connections, The Garage aims to be more than just a place to highlight what has happened, but a place to make the next big thing happen,” said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “By bringing together Rhode Islanders from various fields, focusing on growth industries with the proven capacity to succeed in our state, and providing relevant resources, The Garage allows for the collision of people and ideas that can lead to new economic development.”

 

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. Livability.com 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.

2014 Economic Outlook Breakfast serves up optimism

Business Leaders Feeling Bullish

The 2014 Economic Outlook Breakfast sponsored by Santander and the Chamber featured a real time survey of Rhode Island business professionals who expressed a fair amount of optimism about the next 12 months. More than 350 people weighed in on topics ranging from the pace of the economic recovery to capital expenditure and hiring plans. View the results.

"The results were the most bullish we have seen in quite a while," according to Santander Director Michael Lee.

Among the highlights, 62 percent of those surveyed said they anticipate business prospects being "much better" or "somewhat better" in the year ahead. Also, 40 percent said they intend to hire new employees over the next 12 months.

Roman Blanco, president and CEO of Santander US, made the visit to Rhode Island to emphasize Sovereign's multi-dimensional capabilities as both a "local bank for your ideas" and a "geographically diverse global institution." He discussed the bank's role as a major supporter of universities and colleges across the country and the importance of advanced technology in strengthening the American economy.

Investing in Higher Education Key To RI’s Growth

Show Your Support For Next-Gen Engineers

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of Article 5, Question 1 in Governor Chafee’s FY 2015 proposed budget, the $125 million bond initiative to renovate and expand the facilities used by leading engineers and students at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering.   This bond initiative is a strategic investment in the state’s public engineering program.  More than half of URI’s engineering buildings opened more than 50 years ago.  These outdated facilities place limits on the engineering programs amid extraordinary advancements in technology and science in the United States. They also no longer match the level of top quality teaching and research that takes place there.

The College provides access to world-class research, development, and expertise. It is also a local pipeline for top young engineering talent and innovation. More than 68 patents have been awarded to URI engineering faculty over the past decade and University alumni started 30 current RI-based businesses.  Engineering professionals support key sectors of the state’s economy such as defense, cyber-security, clean energy, manufacturing, marine technologies, and biotechnology. These are key factors that advance economic development within our state.

To express your support, contact House Finance Committee Chair Helio Melo.


 

 

 

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. 

Stay Healthy This Winter: We Can Help

Health insurance coverage is a critical factor in making health care accessible to women, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Women with health coverage are more likely to obtain needed preventive, primary, and specialty care services, and have better access to new advances in women’s health. Among the 98 million women ages 18 to 64, most have some form of coverage. However, the patchwork of different private sector and publicly-funded programs in the U.S. leaves one in five women uninsured. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 includes several measures that are changing the profile of women’s coverage as the law is implemented fully.

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is working to raise awareness about the value the RIRX prescription drug card can bring to health care consumers. With the winter flu season in full swing, we are particularly interested in promoting the importance of primary care among working women.  Download your free @RhodeIslandRX card today and see how it can open doors for you and your family. CVS/Caremark has been identified as the preferred provider.  Simply mention the card and get qualified for your immediate discount. Everybody is eligible. 

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, www.GreaterRI.com. 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 GreaterRI.com 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 GreaterRI.com 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 www.GreaterRI.com. 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 www.RIRX.com. 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 alixc@rirx.com

 

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 www.ourbackyardri.com 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.

Taxation

  • 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.

Education

  • 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
www.entrepreneurprovidenceri.com 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 – www.entrepreneurprovidenceri.com.  

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 chamber@provchamber.com 

The Garage Web Site

Have you been to www.thegarageri.com?

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 www.thegarageri.com?

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

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

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

Registration
Secure your place!

Updates
Breaking news about presenters, topics and guests!

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

Contact
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 https://www.facebook.com/ThegarageRI 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 www.thegarageri.com

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 

Betaspring 

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 - http://www.health.ri.gov/flu/about/whentoseekmedicalcare/

Center for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

Additional government information - http://www.flu.gov/#

Business planning information - http://www.flu.gov/planning-preparedness/business/#

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 www.RIRX.com 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.