meghan hughes

WHY RI: Tight-Fit Talent

Why Rhode Island? Talent, Talent and More Talent

 

At the Chamber, we spend much of our day talking to people about all things Rhode Island. This state is home for people for many reasons, but when we ask them why they’ve chosen Rhode Island to do business in, their answers invariably have something to do with the concentration of diverse and sophisticated talent here. But don’t take my word for it. 

Here’s what some top business leaders have said in recent months about the talent pool here:

“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.” —Joe Gebbia, cofounder of Airbnb

“There’s great talent here. We have a front row recruiting seat to five or six great schools—including Brown and RISD and the University of Rhode Island.” —David Osborne, CEO of Virgin Pulse

“The insurance industry is facing a graying of talent—a definite challenge as we go forward—but we’ve benefited from our proximity to [Rhode Island’s] great institutions of higher learning, from which we can attract young people.” —Sandy Parillo, president and CEO of Providence Mutual

“For the size of Rhode Island, [it’s incredible] to have Brown, RISD, Johnson & Wales, Bryant and Providence College. We have a lot of smart kids, and … they want to contribute right away, and that’s what innovation is all about, right? They come in, they have great ideas and they’re the engine that’s making Providence such an exciting place to be.” —Jon Duffy, president of Duffy & Shanley

“[Innovation is] baked into the DNA. If you go all the way back to the eighteenth century and look at, for example, the great Newport furniture makers, they represent the very best that was done in our country. You look at the silversmiths, and you look at what grew out of that design intelligence—it’s alive and well here. You see it at RISD. You see it at the hundreds of small businesses that exist across the state. You see it in places like HASBRO and CVS. It’s part of who we are.” —Dr. Megan Hughes, president of Community College of Rhode Island

“We’ve seen a hit parade in recent months of tech- or innovation-oriented companies that want to get close to our universities or talent pipelines.”  —Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island secretary of commerce

“Not only is it easier to become a thought leader here, but also the state punches well above its weight with a talented workforce that’s constantly refreshed by the creative thinkers and entrepreneurs pouring out of our 11 colleges and universities.” —Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBS RI

“Our colleges and universities are on the cutting edge [when it comes to] thinking about how to do curricular renewal and how to change the quality of the collegiate experience so that we’re preparing graduates that are more engaged and have more relevant skill sets and talent to engage with today’s economy.” —Frank Sanchez, president of Rhode Island College

In business, talent is the great differentiator. With a dozen world-class colleges and universities, Rhode Island offers a strong and continuous flow of highly educated workers. We invite you to further explore the rest of our EntrepreneurProvidenceRI.com site to dive into the talent opportunities in our state. 

Read about how the GPCC can help you tap into Rhode Island’s talent pool. 

 

In Their Own Words: How Entrepreneurs Are Supported in RI

When TechCrunch host and best-selling author Andrew Keen visited Providence late last year, all of us here at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce were excited to introduce him to Gov. Gina Raimondo and Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor, along with several of our entrepreneurial-minded board members. In the interviews we arranged between Andrew and these board members—such as Verizon’s Donna Cupelo, CCRI’s Dr. Meghan Hughes, BCBSRI’s Kim Keck and Duffy & Shanley’s Jon Duffy (which you can find soon on this website), a key theme developed: One hundred fifty years into our work as a chamber, the GPCC is doing something right. We will strive to continue to live up to the words that follow: 

Stefan Pryor, secretary of commerce for the state of Rhode Island: “We have the best relationship between a state commerce operation and a chamber of commerce in the country. The GPCC has teamed up with us to recruit businesses and spread the word on momentum in Rhode Island. They raised private money to do it. They deployed themselves simultaneously with us to trade shows and site selection events and to other forums where states are competing. The power of being jointly deployed—as state officials and chamber of commerce officials—it means that the private sector is at the table when we’re recruiting another business. What better message could there be about what our business community thinks of itself? Of the pride, the optimism to be sitting with the chamber? The future is bright in terms of this collaboration blossoming.” 

Donna Cupelo, regional president of New England at Verizon Communications Inc.: “One of the things the [GPCC] has done over the past few years is try to convene people who have an interest in innovation. That had never been done before. The Chamber has convene[d] all types of folks in academics and business and government and research and development, and the role they’re playing is very unique because they’re asking some very interesting questions: What does it take for entrepreneurs? What does it take for young companies to be thriving and successful, and how can companies like mine enable those companies in a larger ecosystem?” 

Jon Duffy, president of Duffy & Shanley: “Not all states have a city-state, so you’ll [ordinarily] see multiple chambers that make up a certain geography. The Providence chamber is the dominant chamber here; almost every major business is a member so you have the ability to get everybody together from the same hymn book, which is rare. The size of Rhode Island is one of the reasons the [GPCC] is able to act as a leader. It’s easy to bring people together; it’s easy to get a lot of decision-makers in a room and agree on a strategy, agree to put your shoulder against something and make things happen. The Chamber plays an important role in that in terms of leading—you need leadership and the business community will follow.” 

Meghan Hughes, president of Community College of Rhode Island: “The Chamber [is one of the] unique strengths that Rhode Island brings that other states just can’t compete with. If you are a business and you’re looking at coming to Rhode Island with relative ease, we can bring together our congressional delegation, our local government leaders, our local employer leaders, our local educational leaders and our local nonprofit leaders into the same room trying to solve the same problem. The Chamber is a really effective partner at listening to what potential employers need [and] what current employers need here in order to grow.” 

Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSRI: “The Chamber is a great convener—of opportunities, information, resources—connecting companies who have already solved a problem to companies who have an opportunity. … One of the things I think the Chamber does particularly well is understanding what’s going on in different industries and different states and bringing [that understanding] home to Rhode Island.” 

Find Andrew Keen’s interviews with Rhode Island business leaders—ranging from Verizon’s Donna Cupelo to CCRI’s Dr. Meghan Hughes to BCBSRI’s Kim Keck and RIC’s Dr. Frank Sánchez and many more—on the Chamber’s web and digital channels in the coming weeks and months.