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. 

Focusing on advanced manufacturing and info tech

Building on Rhode Island’s Successes: The Garage 2014 Focuses on Getting the Money and Supporting Our Growth Industries

Entrepreneurs, educators, investors, established businesses come together to move Rhode Island forward


The Chamber will host The Garage from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Building on the success stories that have grown out of the two previous events, as well the work done by the Founders League, Betaspring, the university community and so many other efforts, The Garage will take the next step in accelerating Rhode Island’s unique growth industries.


Participants in The Garage represent 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.  In-depth discussion will occur around the following:


  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.”


Bringing together revenue-generating companies, investors and educators, The Garage allows for cross-pollination of ideas and for connections to be made. For example, last year the brains behind the new Food Innovation Nexus found inspiration during the Food Science panel which brought together university resources, investors and entrepreneurs.


In addition to exploding industry clusters, The Garage will also feature a critical piece of the story for any growing start-up community. The Garage’s Growth 140 Platform will shed light on how entrepreneurs are “Getting the Money.” Having heard over and over throughout the last year that new companies can no longer rely on access to traditional capital, this fast-paced discussion will reveal how Rhode Island’s newest success stories are making their ideas a reality, whether through fundraising sites like or programs like Betaspring


The Garage will once again be bookended by the Economic Outlook Luncheon, featuring Scott C. Donnelly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Textron, Inc, and the RI Business Plan Competition Finale where the winners will be announced.


For more information, please contact Kathryn Prael Dunkelman at or 345-678-2281. Information will also be updated regularly in advance of the May 1 event at


Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of The Garage.



Event Schedule

Thursday, May 1, 2014


12:00-1:30 p.m.

Economic Outlook Luncheon

Keynote Speaker: Scott Donnelly, Chairman & CEO, Textron, Inc.

Presenting Sponsor:

University of Rhode Island


1:45-2:30 p.m.

Growth 140 Platform- Getting the Money

Facilitated by John Robitaille, Executive Director

 Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship

Participating Companies:

Achievery, Carethread, Increment, Learn Fresh, Nordic Technology Group, VoltServer


2:45-3:30 p.m.

Consumer Products Panel – Design Innovation/Market Making

Moderated by Jonathan Duffy, President, Duffy & Shanley

Participating Companies:

Baby’s Journey, Mars Made/OCTOPD, Pear Health LLC, Teespring


University Spin-offs

Moderated by Peggy Farrell, Partner, Hinckley Allen

Participating Companies:

FarSounder, ProThera Biologics, Tivorsan Pharmaceuticals


3:45-4:30 p.m.

Advanced Manufacturing – Materials Innovation/Market Diversification

Moderated by Mark Murphy, Editor, Providence Business News

Participating Companies:
 Anvil International, Biomedical Structures, FujiFilm, Teknor Apex


Incorporating Innovative IT into Products & Processes

Moderated by Cynthia Stewart Reed, President & CEO, LTR Holdings, LLC

Participating Companies:
Dassault Systemes Simulia, Purvis Systems, Stop & Shop


4:30-5:30 p.m.

Rhode Island Business Plan Competition Winners Announced


5:30-7:30 p.m.

Networking Reception/Demo Pods

Sponsored by Hinckley Allen


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.

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, 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.