Why Providence?

Every day, tens of thousands of people make their way into Providence – for work, for school, or just to visit our dynamic city. From an economic development perspective, that experience is important.

Last month, Governor Chafee invited me to join him and others for a ‘familiarization tour’ with executives from Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm and leading advisor on business strategy based in Boston and New York.  A familiarization tour brings corporate executives and site selectors together with state and local officials to look at what a community has to offer, so they may suggest it to clients when expansion or relocation opportunities present themselves.

Joining us on that tour was Mayor Scott Avedisian of Warwick, the RI Economic Development Corporation, Jim Bennett – Providence’s Director of Economic Development, Colin Kane – chair of the I-195 Commission, Laurie White – President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Dan Baudouin – President of the Providence Foundation and others.

The founder of BCG, James Malik, and his colleagues shared a half-day of travel throughout Providence and Warwick, and offered their expertise on what we can all do as a region to retain companies and recruit new businesses that will create new jobs and build additional commerce in Providence and Rhode Island.   Importantly, they suggested rather than trying to be all things to all people, we promote one or two best assets, “narrow-casting,” who we are. We are all aware that if we do not distinguish ourselves for the specialness of our community, we make it harder on ourselves to convince corporate leaders to consider building and growing their business in Providence.

As a Mayor, I know that we have as much – or more – to offer than any other city in the Northeast.  We are strategically located on the Boston-Washington corridor and have easy access to all forms of transportation.   We are home to renowned colleges and universities, and the intellectual capital of their graduates.  And among the most important factors to recruit businesses:  we have a talented and skilled workforce and a quality of life that can help businesses recruit even more talented people to our city.

But other cities tout these things, too.  So what is it that really makes Providence the right place to locate?

One common denominator is the great businesses we have here – and their willingness to come to our city. This shows they have taken a risk and succeeded.   In Providence, we have some outstanding industry leaders, many international in scope:  GTECH, HASBRO, Citizens Bank, Dassault Systemes Simulia, DellWorks, Univar, Umicore, Forensic Risk Alliance and CVS. These are corporate leaders creating new technology, breaking barriers in their respective fields, investing millions in high-growth research and using hundreds of local workers to reach those goals.

As Providence’s and Rhode Island’s business leaders, you are among the most valuable messengers.  We are all working together to build a stronger economy and grow jobs.  We invite your ideas and ask you to feel free to share them with us at jbennett@providenceri.com.  Jim Bennett is ready and able to work with you, and you can join our effort by calling him at 401.680.8400.

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