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Capital City: Providence’s Educational Scene

By Mayor Jorge Elorza

Providence has the largest concentration of institutions of higher learning in the state. Among those bodies are Brown University, Providence College (PC), Johnson & Wales University (JWU), Rhode Island College (RIC), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), many trade and vocational schools, and satellite campuses of the University of Rhode Island (URI), the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), and Roger Williams University (RWU).

A proud member of the Ivy League, Brown is among the most prestigious and innovative universities in the country, and along with other private colleges, they are among the largest contributors to our local economy. Together, Brown, PC, and JWU employ 5.05% of the employees in the Creative Capital –that’s about 6,100 jobs directly with countless others sustained indirectly. The resources and promise  by Mayor Jorge Elorza This means partnering with post- of our locally established institutions stretch far beyond Providence’s neighborhoods.

Yet a problem lurks amidst such promise—a large portion of this invaluable talent leaves Providence

after graduation. Others are unable to acquire experience in their fields and must be content with underemployment. Earlier last month I announced the formation of my Millennial Task Force, a group of young engaged and motivated Providence young adults that share the City’s goal of retaining our graduates.

In the coming months, their recommendations will help to guide my administrations’ policy initiatives that aim to keep the innovative talent here in Rhode Island. In order to ensure future success, we need to form lasting partnerships with business leaders, officials, and institutions of higher learning. We need to understand and meet the needs of our Millennials and the new knowledge-based economy.

This means partnering with post- secondary schools to ensure their degree programs, their technologies, and their infrastructures are ones that will prepare students to excel in an information-based economy. It requires finding creative ways to transform Providence into a city that better serves its current and future workforce by improving public transportation and continuing to enrich our arts and culture.

The quality of higher education is one of Providence’s and Rhode Island’s strongest resources. If we work together to act on our present realities, we can make long-term decisions that move us towards a city that works for the future, and towards an innovative and creative New Providence.

Providence as an Arts Destination

By Mayor Jorge Elorza

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Providence. Here in the Creative Capital we have so much to offer visitors. There are many wonderful things to enjoy and explore throughout our diverse neighborhoods. Music, art, culture and cuisine are in our DNA. From international film festivals to concerts in the park, gallery openings to the world- renowned magic of WaterFire Providence— you will find that there is truly something for everyone here.

We are proud to have hosted the first ever Providence International Arts Festival this month in downtown Providence.

Over the past few months, the City’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and FirstWorks has worked with local artists of all disciplines, arts organizations, cultural associations, and community groups to create a can’t miss spectacular experience for all. Artists and guests from all over the world gathered here in Providence to create, play, sing, and explore our Creative Capital.

With the large imprint of this festival, it brought a major economic boost for participating and surrounding vendors while showcasing the talent and creative nature of our residents.

We had 18 participating venues, 500 artists including international guests and locals and 30 public art projects for visitors to enjoy. The festival was truly something to remember.

Creative place making intentionally uses arts and culture to bring cross-sector partners together to transform places. This festival used the city’s neighborhood as its stage and the creative culture as here as a market to draw in thousands of visitors from across the globe. My vision for this festival is that it becomes an annual phenomenon for visitors and residents to enjoy for years to come.

Free Tax Services Available to Eligible Providence Residents

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras is encouraging eligible Providence residents to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program this tax season.

“My administration is pleased to promote the work of our community partners helping hardworking Providence residents and families take advantage of tax credits and free tax preparation available to them,” said Mayor Taveras.

Taxpayers who earned less than $52,000 last year may be eligible for an EITC refund.  The tax credit can put thousands of dollars back into the pockets of low-income individuals and families, making it easier to save money and balance their budgets.

Residents who make less than $52,000 annually are also encouraged to locate their nearest VITA site. VITA sites match families with volunteers certified by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to help determine eligibility for federal Earned Income Tax Credits, offer free tax preparation services, and encourage recipients to utilize credits for savings and building assets through financial literacy education.

The VITA Program prepared more than 10,000 tax returns last year statewide, returning a total refund of more than $16.3 million.

Organizations hosting VITA programs are located in neighborhood across Providence. VITA locations include:

  • Federal Hill House
  • Capital Good Fund
  • Providence Spanish SDA Church
  • Center For Southeast Asians
  • Elmwood Community Center
  • Olneyville Housing Corporation
  • Capital City Community Center
  • Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
  • Open Doors
  • Johnson and Wales University

Find a VITA site near you at or by calling United Way at 2-1-1.

Providence residents earning less than $58,000 can also file taxes for free online at

ProvSmart Online Permitting and Plan Review

One of the most important issues entrepreneurs face is how to deal with the scores of state and local regulations and permits needed to start and run a business. In Providence, we understand.

According to a recent report by the Rhode Island Office of Management and Budget/ Office of Regulatory Reform (ORR), which is conducting a comprehensive review of all state regulations relating to small business, there are more than 1,600 state regulations. As part of their charge by the Governor, they’ve taken a look at 1,089 of them, and in their most recent review, they found 399 of them impacted small business, chiefly in “audit, inspection and enforcement activities.” They expect this number to grow as they review the final group of regulations and implement a new and more comprehensive small business impact model.

By getting an accurate ‘lay of the land’ and working with cities such as Providence, the state will be able to build a more reasonable system of regulations and laws that is consistent, transparent, and supportive of small business.

In Providence, we have been taking measures to help small business grow. As part of my Economic Development Plan, “Putting Providence Back to Work,” we have taken the lead with online permitting (

Late last month, we launched an online permitting system that lets contractors and developers, homeowners and business owners  alike, apply through their computers – or at a stationery kiosk in the Department of Inspections and Standards – for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and construction permits. Now, you can submit your permit application and plans, and then pay and print your Permit Card online.

How it works
When you visit, you will need to create an account if this is the first time you are using the system. This account will give you an online dashboard where you can track and keep a record of all your permits. Click the link Register Now or use one of the social media links to create an account.

Once you have an account, just select the type of permit you require and fill out the application, leaving any fields blank that do not apply or that you don’t know the answer to. Click Save to submit your application or Save Draft to finish and submit at a later time.

Your application will be reviewed and you will receive an email approving it or requesting more information. When you get this email, you can upload drawings for review. At any time in the online process, you can also come into the department at 444 Westminster Street for more help or to deliver paper drawings if you wish, or pay with a check.

In business, time is money. This new state-of-the-art process built with the newest software allows you to track progress on one or multiple projects, and lets you get on with the business of doing business much quicker.

In the next month, we will be hosting a special event for all local business owners, contractors and developers, and brokers to learn first-hand how this new process works. We hope you’ll join us then. For details follow us on

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