Think Differently: Innovation Campus Wants Fresh Look



The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Commerce Rhode Island to create a physical space where breakthrough thinking is formally cultivated and funded. And we're looking for the best thinkers in the world. Stand out from the crowd.

Earlier this summer, Commerce RI issued an Invitation for Expressions of Interest to generate initial ideas on how industry and academia can collaborate to build a transformative Innovation Campus (or campuses) in Rhode Island. This competition will ultimately award funds via an RFP from the $20 million bond issuance approved by Rhode Island’s voters. Applications must involve collaboration with research partners including the University of Rhode Island. The inclusion of other national and international universities and medical centers as partners is encouraged.

You can see the requirements here. Note that per the instructions, all submissions should be sent to  If you have any further questions, please get in touch with our team at RI Innovation Campus



UPDATE: Software Jobs Open at eMoney

FinTech company eMoney is settling in to their new Providence home at 100 Westminster Street and quickly getting to know the local tech and entrepreneurial community.  “It’s been amazing . Everyone here has been so welcoming,” said HR Director Tessa Raum.  

Tessa shared her staffing plans with us today.  “We’re hiring! We’re looking to bring on 50 new roles by the end of 2017, and more by the end of 2019.” 


Software engineers and software developers are very much in demand by e-Money, with competitive average salaries. Entry level roles as well as positions with three to five years’ experience are being offered.

The company builds software as a solution in the wealth management sector. Their vision is to “drive innovation in FinTech by creating and delivering technology solutions that help advisors and firms of all sizes achieve greater efficiency, scale, competitive edge, and growth in their businesses.”

Tessa described the culture at eMoney as “Google-like,” with strong emphasis on work/life balance. “We’re serious and passionate about our business. We want our talent to love the people they work with and to add value to our clients.”

eMoney  has been in business for 17 years with 455 employees in LaJolla, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and our partners at Commerce RI have been working with company’s human resources executives in Providence to help link them with local talent from our preeminent colleges and universities. The opportunities are diverse and exciting. 

To learn more about the jobs now available in Rhode Island, check out their hiring site here. 

FinTech Firm eMoney Now Sourcing Providence Talent

FinTech firm eMoney is expanding into Providence. The wealth management technology company is opening a new office at 100 Westminster Street, with positions already being filled for the site. 

Located in a 20-story commercial building in the Financial District, the office’s downtown views paired with nearly 7,000 square feet of rented space, provide an atmosphere that is conducive to fostering the collaboration and innovation that eMoney is known for both as an employer and as a leading provider of scalable wealth management technology. 

The new office location stems from the firm’s rapid growth over the last few years and desire to explore a new talent market in the Northeast. 


“This is just the beginning of our journey in Rhode Island,” said Ed O’Brien, CEO of eMoney. “We’re excited to get the office up and running, becoming an integral part of the Providence community and tapping its extensive network of talent. We’re proud to expand our eMoney team so we can continue to innovate and meet the needs of our clients.”

As previously announced by Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in March, eMoney is committed to bringing 100 full-time jobs to the state by 2020. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce stands ready to assist the firm with its hiring needs.

“We welcome eMoney to their new Providence office,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “With workforce training and economic development as top priorities, we have added 14,000 jobs since taking office, and regained all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Additions to the state like eMoney show Rhode Island is on the move.”

eMoney already has 10 employees set to work in the Providence office by mid-August, and extensive recruiting efforts are underway to fill open roles in software development, user interface and experience design, software testing and quality engineering, and product management, among others.

“Providence continues to demonstrate that it has the talent, quality of life, and momentum that businesses are looking for,” said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “I’m excited to welcome a fast-growing company like eMoney Advisor to the capital city and wish them success in the years to come.”

eMoney has two other office locations in the U.S. Its corporate headquarters located just outside of Philadelphia in Radnor, Pa., has more than 400 employees on-site serving all areas of the business, including software development, financial planning, security and data services, sales, client engagement, marketing, finance, and human resources, among others. The firm’s West Coast office located in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, Ca., is home to approximately 60 employees who work in client engagement, sales and financial planning.

To learn more about eMoney’s open positions in Providence, visit here.


Software enabled manufacturing start-ups are dominating

The business environment for entrepreneurial-minded manufacturers is getting a lot of buzz. An explosion of digital tools and services has rocked the manufacturing realm, drawing in computer-assisted design and 3D printing equipment, open-source operating systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

A recent article in HBR by Mark Muro of Brookings puts it in perspective:  Innovative “tools, resources, and intermediaries are allowing a new generation of serious entrepreneurs to begin to bridge the worlds of hacker space and industry. As a result, software-enabled manufacturing start-ups are poised to have a large economic impact.”  So, how does Rhode Islander’s famed maker-movement plug into this energy? Engaging young, creative minds is the answer.


Governor Raimondo’s Rhode Island Promise Scholarship Program is officially rolling out this academic year, Fall 2017. For prospective students to qualify for RI Promise, they must have just graduated from high school or recently obtained a GED, and they would be eligible for two years at CCRI tuition free.  CCRI is hosting enrollment days on August 10th and 17th – a chance for students to ask questions and enroll for this semester. Rhode Island is the fourth state in the country to offer tuition-free community college, an essential credential for the evolving workforce--- particularly in manufacturing.


Rhode Island's efforts to spur workforce development don’t stop there.  Along with being the first state to offer computer science to every child in every public school, Rhode Island partners its high schools and community colleges with local manufacturers to give students industry-specific knowledge, workplace tours, apprenticeships and internships.  Rhode Island also offers student-loan assistance to graduates pursuing a STEM or design career.


Looking for a place to start and grow your manufacturing business? Providence's deep roots in manufacturing innovation must be seriously examined. Would you like to learn  more?

Start-Up Environment In Providence Cheered

Summer is a perfect time of year to see Providence in a new light.

Summer is a perfect time of year to see Providence in a new light.

Good news travels fast. We've had a recent spate of positive media attention highlighting the Providence, Rhode Island entrepreneurial communities. This piece in Crain's Boston talks about our legacy as a maker city and as a recent leader in the social enterprise movement.  Kelly Ramirez from Social Enterprise Greenhouse shares her thoughts on how the movement is catching fire. Providence's world class colleges and universities and young talent pool are the key differentiators drawing attention.

FDi Intelligence magazine, a publication associated with The Financial Times in London, has a well researched feature story highlighting our international prowess in the manufacturing sector and how educational leaders are driving Rhode Island's economic resurgence.

I have been on the road recently, as well, promoting Rhode Island's advantages as a place to do business. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Commerce RI have had a major presence at the Boston Biosciences Leaders Conference, the Social Innovation Summit in Chicago, and BIO International 2017 in San Diego. 

The reaction from business leaders with whom we have met has been consistent: 

  • Rhode Island is definitely on the radar screen for investors. High profile names like GE Digital, Virgin Pulse, Johnson & Johnson, Agoda and Wexford Science & Technology have generated a bit of a curiosity factor. i.e. What's going on in Providence???
  • Our talent pipeline and workforce development strategy is considered smart and unique.
  • Our incentive programs are performance-based and deliver benefits that are most relevant.
  • Rhode Island's business climate is now viewed as increasingly favorable. 

Help us spread the word! If you would like to learn more about Rhode Island as a place to grow and expand your business, reach out to us today.  


Gebbia Loves Providence

Airbnb Co-founder Joe Gebbia Talks Rhode Island’s Role in Planting His Startup’s Seeds

It’s not every day that I get to share the stage with a RISD grad whose disruptive international room-renting service is now valued at $31 billion. At the Chamber’s 2017 Economic Outlook Luncheon on June 5, I was joined by Governor Gina Raimondo and Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, whose company has exploded in more than 191 countries in fewer than 10 years.


The company was famously founded by not one but two RISD grads: Gebbia and Brian Chesky, who was also in town last week to deliver the commencement speech at RISD. I’m grateful to both men for remaining strong advocates for our state and its business strengths over the years.


Chesky and Gebbia famously founded Airbnb in 2008 after renting out an airbed in their apartment when an overcrowded conference in San Francisco filled up every hotel in the city. “Anybody could have rented an airbed during the conference that weekend,” he told the luncheon crowd of more than 500 people. “It was really [about] looking at a problem and turning it into an opportunity. That was the basis of our company. Anytime there’s any kind of rejection, any kind of problem, that becomes an invitation to think of a new idea.”


Gebbia, who attended RISD in 2000 and earned dual degrees in graphic design and industrial design, now serves on the RISD Board of Trustees. During the luncheon, he traced both his startup mentality and Airbnb’s culture back to the experiences he had at RISD.


“We actually didn’t invent anything new,” Gebbia said of founding Airbnb. “There’s nothing proprietary about what [Airbnb does] as a company. It was really translating what RISD teaches so well—being able to see two different things and recombine them in a new and a different way.”


Airbnb has long been headquartered in San Francisco, but perhaps after the warm reception its founders received in the Ocean State last week, they may consider a move to the smallest state, as leading companies like GE Digital, Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity and others have recently done. In Gebbia’s own words: “The culture of Rhode Island and the culture of Providence is one that’s ripe to attract companies like ours, and part of that is the talent pool. A lot of cities don’t actually see the broader picture. Silicon Valley is actually an entire ecosystem. It’s not just one thing. In order for that to work you also have to have access to capital, media, culture and mentorship.”


Under Gov. Raimondo’s leadership, Rhode Island now has all of those things—and so much more.

Taking Providence to Chicago for the Social Innovation Summit

Joe Lotuff of Lotuff Leather, Peter Hirshberg of Maker City and I talk about the economic resurgence of Providence at the Social Innovation Summit in Chicago.

Joe Lotuff of Lotuff Leather, Peter Hirshberg of Maker City and I talk about the economic resurgence of Providence at the Social Innovation Summit in Chicago.

In today's post, I'd like to share some thoughts about a panel that I was thrilled to moderate at the Social Innovation Summit in Chicago called “Urban Transformation: Rethinking Cities as an Engine for Growth & Development.”

Summit organizers called it a “global convening of black swans and wayward thinkers,” and I was proud to be among them. Joining me on the panel were Joe Lotuff, co-founder of Providence-based Lotuff Leather, and Peter Hirshberg, an innovation advisor and author of Maker City: A Practical Guide to Reinventing Our Cities. Our discussion focused on how manufacturers and makers today are driving prosperity in cities by helping them evolve into social innovation hubs.
In Rhode Island, this connection is readily apparent: As we’ve doubled our number of social enterprises in the last year, our economic outlook has greatly improved. But our state isn’t new to social innovation. At the turn of the century, Providence was the most prosperous city in America. Our depth of expertise in manufacturing even sparked the Industrial Revolution. Those who ran the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce—one of the oldest chambers in America—were the industrialists of their time, but over the course of a couple decades, Providence lost its footing when the textile and jewelry industries left. Through the lens of the Chamber’s long history, we’ve been able to see how manufacturing can change a city. In the process of finding our way back to prosperity, we have also made a return to our city’s focus on innovation. 
This is thanks to initiatives like the Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a network of 400-plus social enterprises and the 300-plus business and community leaders who support them. All of the state’s 11 colleges and universities have partnered with the Greenhouse, and nine now have social enterprise programs in place so that far more young people in our state are thinking about launching these ventures and being connected to social enterprise. The Greenhouse has launched a statewide campaign with those of us at the Commerce. Called Best for Rhode Island, it encourages business to do even more good in the state.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently named Rhode Island the second-best state in America for innovation and entrepreneurship. Our state earned this distinction largely by rethinking the way local businesses, schools and institutions collaborate with the state and with one another. To ensure success in Rhode Island, this has been a key focus for our governor, Gina Raimondo. The incentives and other opportunities within her economic toolbox are keeping Providence’s rock-star talent in-state while attracting smart minds from outside. They’re helping match small companies with universities to conduct research and development, and allowing industry clusters to collaborate and grow together. The recently launched Innovation Campus competition will also help turn our universities’ research capacity and the commercialization of that research into new products, businesses and jobs.
What I loved about this summit is that it wasn’t about bringing people together to talk about the next big idea, but it was about bringing together those people who are ready to build the next big idea. That’s something those of us in Providence have always excelled at.


Meet the Founder of Airbnb

Meet Joe Gebbia, founder and chief product officer of Airbnb, and hear how this RISD grad with a design thinking mindset created a global phenomenon of 100 million users and became one of the top business innovators in the world today.

A creative entrepreneur from an early age, Gebbia’s groundbreaking home-sharing platform began in his San Francisco apartment in 2008 out of necessity to pay his rent. What started as three airbeds, a pop-tart breakfast, welcoming hosts and an insider’s guide to the city, is now at the center of hospitality, human connectivity and economic stimulation. The Airbnb concept has spread to 65,000 cities in over 191 countries, creating a new economy for thousands of people around the world. The company is valued today at $31 billion and climbing.

Joe has spoken globally about both entrepreneurship and design, and received numerous distinctions such as the Inc “30 under 30” and Fortune “40 under 40.” His lifelong appreciation for art and design led him to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design. He now serves on the institution’s Board of Trustees.

Attend the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Luncheon and hear about the habits and disciplines that anyone can adopt to gauge growth opportunities and reimagine a product, a business or even an entire industry. Also, get an insider’s perspective on Airbnb’s newest division devoted to humanitarian and social impact experiences.

“What Airbnb represents is a form of design that not only doesn’t create stuff in the world, but helps people think differently about the stuff they already have. It helps people reimagine the excess they have in their lives, and how they can repurpose it in a more useful way.”

Our conversation with Joe Gebbia and Governor Gina Raimondo will leave you feeling inspired to be an innovator and a disruptor in your own universe--- wherever that may be.

Contact for registration details. Or log on to for online registration.

PVD: An Emerging Silicon Valley Clone

We are so proud that Providence is being recognized by Inc. Magazine for its thriving startup community. In its May 2017 issue, Inc. calls out Providence as one of "The 6 Best Cities to Start A Business Right Now." Here's what they had to say:

The State of Rhode Island has made major investments in entrepreneurship. In 2016 they attracted GE Digital, Johnson & Johnson, Virgin Pulse and a world renowned Cambridge Innovation Center--an accelerator for innovation enterprises.
Rhode Island has created college tuition incentives to attract new talent and used the existing talent of top nearby research institutions like Brown and Harvard to create an emerging Silicon Valley clone. USA Today ranked Brown #1 in the country for applied mathematics.
"We had to make connections to eds and meds, especially for existing companies," said Stefan Pryor, Secretary of Commerce at State of Rhode Island. "We have an Innovation Voucher Program. If a company is looking for R&D we'll pay for a college or university medical center to do that R&D research. We have made 22 of these arrangements so far and increase the funding year after year. It's helping to fuel the innovation economy.

Read the full article here. Share it with you everyone you know!! Make Providence your start-up community. Call us to learn more.

--- Laurie White, president, GPCC

"RI's Promise" Is A Keeper

As is well known, our key focus at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is economic development on behalf of business. And today we wanted to step out and make a few comments publicly about what’s now a universal issue facing general business and entrepreneurs everywhere. And that’s the demand for talent.

America’s business community is feeling optimistic. They’re in an expansion mode. They’re hiring. They’re carefully calibrating what they need to do and where they need to be to produce the most profitable outcomes.

Likewise, the Rhode Island business community is feeling optimistic about the future, and they’re hiring. Our local entrepreneurial environment has never been stronger, particularly due to the high concentration of elite colleges and universities in the area. Yet, the need for even more talent remains intense.

When talking about issues, I like to come at it from a different angle. I point to the “best practice economic development literature” for policy guidance. I think that’s important because it sets context. Area Development and Chamber Executive are two of the most helpful.

Area Development Magazine -- each year in the first quarter -- ranks the policy issues of most importance to American business when it comes to site selection and business facilities planning. In other words: jobs, opportunity, employment, growth. The number one and number two issues. What are they? Quality infrastructure and quality workforce.

American Chamber of Commerce Executives tells us what chambers and business leaders all across this country and internationally are actually doing to drive economic performance. ACCE reports that in 2016, for the first time ever, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher (36%) outnumber workers with a high school diploma or less (34%).  The face of the workforce is changing.  Everyone knows it.

I bring this up because it shows the degree to which this is an issue nationwide and as an object lesson for RI that competitor states are going at it full bore. Our businesses --- from start-up through mid-cap and Fortune 100 --- are competing with businesses in other communities that are getting their talent pipeline in order real fast.

We want to say very clearly that we support Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Rhode Island's Promise proposal to make us a national leader in college affordability and college completion. This emphasis on talent development is squarely in line with the Chamber’s views on how to cultivate a stronger business climate. Rhode Island employers are creating jobs, and we want those jobs to go to Rhode Island kids.

We are particularly impressed with the central themes of Rhode Island's Promise: reducing the loan debt burden on students and families; improving on-time graduation for students; driving desirable enrollment at Rhode Island College, the Community College of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island; and increasing the concentration of our college educated workforce.

We have shared this message in testimony before the House and Senate Finance committees. And we’re teeing it up again today to remind us all to stay focused on the big picture.  We must produce more college graduates. As a nation, we can't afford not to.