Next-Generation Bio Facility Picks RI

What’s Next for West Greenwich? A New $160 Million Manufacturing Plant


As I’ve blogged about before, there’s no shortage of news as it relates to our burgeoning skyline in #Cranetown. But this update involves a town a bit south of the capital, West Greenwich—and it represents one of the biggest developments to come to Rhode Island yet.


Biotechnology company Amgen, which already employs 625 full-time workers in our state, announced this week that West Greenwich will be the location of its first U.S. “next-generation” biomanufacturing plant. Amgen’s new Rhode Island plant is set to be built on the company’s existing 75-acre campus in West Greenwich. The new $160 million facility will bring approximately 150 new manufacturing jobs (with the possibility for up to 300)—as well as hundreds of construction and validation jobs—to the state. Besides providing further opportunity in highly skilled manufacturing, Amgen’s decision helps build Rhode Island’s resume as a leader in life sciences.

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Based in Thousand Oaks, California, Amgen opened its first next-gen facility in Singapore in 2014 and will model its R.I. facility after that one. This new plant will require a smaller-than-ordinary footprint and offer greater environmental benefits, including reduced consumption of water and energy and lower levels of carbon emissions.


This facility will truly be the first of its kind in the U.S.


Manufacturing has always been a core part of our DNA in Rhode Island, and we are proud to be at the forefront of reinventing manufacturing and bringing the industry into the modern age, as the Industrial Revolution did 200 years ago. With Amgen and hopefully other facilities following suit, Rhode Island’s momentum in innovation won’t be slowing down anytime soon.


According to Appleseed, an economic analysis firm, the project should add $3.7 million in net revenue to the state over the 12-year commitment period. As the 24th company to have expanded or landed in the Ocean State since 2015, it serves as more proof that Rhode Island is open for business and continuing to attract innovative new developments and opportunities in Providence and beyond.


To hear more about Rhode Island’s economic recovery story (in its business leaders’ own words), read our blog post about the event the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Providence Foundation recently hosted.

Awesome events for start-ups next week

Danny Warshay, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, has assembled world-class presenters to mentor and inspire.

Danny Warshay, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, has assembled world-class presenters to mentor and inspire.

We are very fortunate to have great depth of talent in the entrepreneur's space in Providence. A lot of that leadership comes from the academic community. One of the most abundant sets of resources comes from the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship at Brown University. A couple of events coming week may be of interest to local entrepreneurs.

Monday evening's event focuses on podcasting and the art of sound and Wednesday's lunchtime book talk with the co-founder of Runa Tea (backed by Leonardo Dicaprio and other celebrities focused on sustainability) will focus on building a startup through lessons he learned in the Amazon.

October 23 @ 5:30 - 8:00 pm
Studio 1, Granoff Center for the Arts
Registration link/Facebook link

Join the Brown Arts Initiative and the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship for a panel discussion (5:30 – 7:00 PM) exploring the inception and evolution of sound ideas and the podcasting industry and the potential for sound and podcasts to act as avenues to launch initiatives, careers and businesses. You will hear from the following panelists:

  • —Torey Malatia, Co-creator of This American Life and current RIPR GeneralManager/President/CEO
  • —Morra Aarons-Mele ‘98, founder of WomenOnline and the Podcast and book, Hiding in the Bathroom
  • —Sam Harnett and Chris Hoff, founders and hosts of the podcast The World According to Sound
  • —Alan Nakagawa, Interdisciplinary sound-based artist, Artist in Residence at Great Streets/LA Mayor’s Office

Following the panel (7:00 – 8:00 PM), Danny Warshay, Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship, will lead a workshop on bottom-up research, an essential entrepreneurial skill to help you find and define your target market.

Wednesday, Oct. 25; 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Petteruti Lounge, 75 Waterman Street

Runa Founder and Brown University alumnus Tyler Gage gathers inspiration in the Amazon.

Runa Founder and Brown University alumnus Tyler Gage gathers inspiration in the Amazon.

Fully Alive tells the story of Tyler Gage ’08 and his immersion in Amazonian indigenous spirituality and its life-changing impact on the trajectory of his company, living a meaningful life, and making an impact in the world. Tyler built RUNA from a scrappy start-up into a thriving, multimillion-dollar company that has become one of the fastest-growing beverage companies in the United States. With the help of investors such as Channing Tatum, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Olivia Wilde, RUNA has created a sustainable source of income for more than 3,000 farming families in Ecuador who sustainably grow guayusa in the rainforest. Simultaneously, RUNA has built a rapidly scaling nonprofit organization that is working to create a new future for trade in the Amazon based on respectful exchange and healing, not exploitation and greed.

Contact elizabeth_malone@brown.edu for details.


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.