greater providence chamber of commerce

Globally Relevant in PVD

5 Signs That Infosys’ Halo Effect Is at Work in Rhode Island

 

When Ravi Kumar, president of Infosys, recently spoke at GPCC’s Economic Outlook Luncheon, he shared the company’s progress in creating a design hub and hiring hundreds in Rhode Island. The direct impact of what Infosys is doing in the state is clear: creating jobs for Rhode Islanders. It’s also important to consider the indirect results—or halo effect—of bringing new businesses to our state:

 

1.      Jobs beget jobs. The types of tech service jobs that Infosys is hiring for in RI normally have an impact of four to five jobs downstream. That is because the new hires are often people just entering the job market, which means they will need housing and have other economic needs that didn’t exist before. And because these are relatively high-paying positions for entry-level workers—he told us the ballpark is $60,000, plus a signing bonus and year-end incentives—consumerism is higher than it would be for lower-paying jobs.

 

2.      A workforce that is trained to succeed. When Infosys made the announcement last year that it would hire 10,000 tech workers in the United States, Ravi knew there wasn’t enough tech talent in the market to reach that number. So the company went back to its roots—its foundation of education and learning. It had faced a similar dearth of tech talent in India, where for two decades it hired talent that was in school or newly graduated and then ran a finishing school to make them production-ready for tech work. Now in the United States, Infosys is following a similar model, taking talent from schools and putting them through several months of training to prepare them for production work in tech services. Ravi believes that every corporation should run an eight- to 12-week apprentice program. The U.S. has largely forgotten apprentice programs, he says, but Infosys believes that talent has to be trained or created, not traded.

 

3.      More fruitful partnerships with academia. To bridge tech-talent skills in the U.S., Infosys has signed up with schools around the country, including RISD. Through this process, it has discovered the untapped potential of the community college ecosystem. Around 50 percent of students in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges, and yet very few corporations are focused on them, said Ravi. To build a model to create a bridge for Rhode Island’s community college students to go for their four-year degree as they work with Infosys, Infosys is now in active conversation with CCRI. And the company has already hired 25 community college students and has been extremely pleased with the results. Ravi believes this program is going to be a game-changer that can be replicated nationally for community colleges.

 

4.      Employees ready for positions in globally relevant fields. In the last two decades, tech services has moved from a client-centric to a global delivery model (work is broken into pieces and sent to offshoring destinations, such as India). That has made it necessary for companies like Infosys to evolve operating and business models along with its clients, and to be able to co-create, co-innovate and be co-located. By building a tech-talent pool in Rhode Island, Infosys is training and employing the state’s residents in globally relevant fields in which their expertise will serve them both today and tomorrow.

 

5.      Impacting local communities. In its Rhode Island operations, Infosys is committed to sourcing locally—it has signed off on the Supply RI program, a statewide initiative to connect local suppliers with Rhode Island businesses. It also wants to have a positive impact on the local communities at large by investing in K-12 teachers and students. Last May, for example, the Infosys Foundation USA’s Pathfinders initiative at Indiana University-Bloomington funded training for 600 teachers from across the U.S. As it kicks off operations in Rhode Island, Infosys plans to open up the foundation to make a similarly tremendous impact on local communities.

 

Laurie White is president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. Read her other Rhode Island Inno contributions here.

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.

Business Optimism All Around Us

Survey Results: 65 Percent of Local Business Leaders Say R.I. Economy Will Be in Better Shape in Next 12 Months

What’s the momentum behind Rhode Island’s local economy really like? To find out, we asked the more than 250 prominent business and civic leaders who attended our 18th annual Economic Outlook Breakfast, cohosted with Santander Bank on Monday.

After sharing his thoughts on the tremendous potential of Rhode Island’s economy, Mike Lee, managing director of Santander Commercial Banking, facilitated a real-time survey in which the attendees answered questions about the state of the local and national economy and the key issues facing their companies. We even got in a question about the Red Sox. Joining Mike to discuss regional business issues were Kelly Coates, president and chief operating officer for Carpionato Group; Maureen Boudreau, director of healthcare technology for Johnson & Johnson; and James Karam, president and founder of First Bristol Corporation. 

Net-net, optimism about Providence and Rhode Island was the dominant theme.

What grabbed my attention was that:

Nearly 54 percent of you believe that the U.S. economy will be in better shape over the next 12 months, while 28 percent believe it will stay about the same. 

Seventy-one percent of you believe your business is in better shape this year than last year, while 8 percent said it is in worse shape today.

Forty-two percent of you cited revenue and sales growth as the most challenging issues your businesses expect to face in the next year, while 28 percent noted talent shortage, 10 percent selected regulatory requirements and seven percent chose managing “big data” and cybersecurity. 

Nearly 55 percent of you said that you will be hiring over the next year. 

Forty percent of you indicated you will be hiring because current staffing levels cannot meet demand, while 26 percent of you selected projected sales growth, and another 25 percent noted you would be hiring because you need skills not possessed by your current staff. 

When asked about your current workforce, you cited team building and group dynamics at 54 percent and technology skills at 39 percent as the top two areas that need development.  

Oh, and last but not least: 55 percent said the Red Sox will not win the World Series. I’m sure there are some Yankees fans smiling at this!


My key takeaways from this breakfast? As confidence in the economy grows and Rhode Island secures more wins like Infosys and Johnson & Johnson, it’s important that the business and civic leaders represented at the breakfast this week continue to engage in meaningful conversations about Rhode Island. Together, we must stay focused on helping all Rhode Island companies thrive so that we maintain a competitive and attractive business climate for the long-term.

To hear more about what Rhode Island’s business leaders have to say about the state, read our blog post about the Providence: An Economic Recovery Story event we also hosted earlier this month. 

Guest Blogger: Mike Lee on #whyRI

Why RI: Santander Bank’s Mike Lee Chooses Rhode Island

Rhode Islanders choose to live and work in Rhode Island for many reasons. Certainly, we love the beaches, the restaurants, the quality of life and the influence of our universities. Easy connectivity with nearby Boston and other major hubs is also appealing.

I’m proud to be a native of Providence and a lifelong resident of Rhode Island. I attended both undergraduate and graduate school at Providence College, and today I live just outside the city in Scituate. My wife and I have raised our three daughters here, and I’ve spent my career—spanning almost four decades—here working for banks. Since 2009, I’ve led the Commercial Real Estate Banking business for Santander Bank, one of the country’s largest commercial and retail banks – and one of the largest banks in the world.

Why more companies are choosing Rhode Island

From a business perspective, Rhode Island is uniquely appealing. In the last couple of years especially, we’ve welcomed an influx of new companies that are choosing our state because it has many of the key qualities they seek:

·        A well-trained and well-educated workforce: We have an abundance of the top educational institutions and comprehensive workforce training programs that are in place throughout the state.

·        A predictable business environment: The current administration has updated Rhode Island’s regulatory and tax policies, removing red tape to create an ideal environment for new and established companies.

·        Available and affordable housing: The opportunities for housing in Rhode Island are abundant, and the affordability index—when compared to major cities like Boston and New York—is important, especially for young people just leaving college and families that are starting off.

·        Transportation and infrastructure: It’s easy to get from one place to another here. When you consider the traffic congestion of some of Rhode Island’s competing and surrounding areas, we’re much more favorable when it comes to transportation and commute times.

·        Technology and utilities: For certain industries, utilities and energy supply are of paramount importance, especially for those companies that operate in the industrial parks in Cranston, Woonsocket or Quonset.

At Santander, our team members who live and work in Rhode Island tell me that many of their customers are also their neighbors and friends. I’m thrilled to say that’s the case for me, too - I’ve met many of my dearest friends through my interactions at Santander. I’m inspired every day by the great work that Santander employees do to make Rhode Island a better place, not only through countless hours of volunteerism but also by putting the customer first. We do this by striving to be a simple, personal and fair place to work and a bank that is respectful of every customer and every employee. If a company can embody these things, it will pass the test of time.

Advice for entrepreneurs and young professionals

Pursue your passion. That’s what I tell young people and budding entrepreneurs. If there’s something that excites you when you get up every morning, do that. You’re going to be doing it for a long time. It’s important to be happy at what you do.

I also encourage people to identify the areas where they are not proficient and to seek expert advice in those areas. In my career, the only constant has been change, and technology has been the most important single change that has persisted over those four decades. So my other piece of advice is to embrace technology.

Finally, whether in life or at work, there are always going to be challenges along the way. It’s important to be a problem solver and to persist through setbacks. All great entrepreneurs have worked through setbacks, and it seems perseverance is their common theme

Mike Lee is managing director of commercial real estate for Santander Bank. We invite you to explore our entire Why RI blog post series with Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSRI; Dan Sullivan, president and CEO of Collette Travel; and Sandy Parrillo, president and CEO of Providence Mutual.

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?
 
 

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 chamber@provchamber.com for registration details. Or log on to provchamber.com for online registration.