rhode island economy

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.

Why Rhode Island? It’s a Hotbed of Design Thinking and Innovation 

 

If you could track innovation with a heatmap, Rhode Island would be on fire. As home of the Industrial Revolution, innovation is baked into our DNA, but what’s more important is that the state is still actively cultivating creativity, both on the Innovation Campus being built with the University of Rhode Island and through our Innovation Voucher program. The latter allows companies with fewer than 500 employees to receive grants of up to $50,000 to fund R&D assistance from a local university, research center or medical center. Our state also offers Industry Cluster Grants to encourage companies in a sector to work together to solve problems, exchange ideas and develop talent.

 

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Little Rhody is exciting for many reasons, but entrepreneurs and business leaders associated with the state inevitably say that they’re most thrilled by our unique and long-running capacity for design thinking and innovation. Here’s what some of them have said on the subject in recent months:

 

“We actually didn’t invent anything new. There’s nothing proprietary about what we do as a company. It was really translating what RISD teaches so well. It was being able to see two different things, and recombine them in a new and different way.” —Joe Gebbia, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduate and cofounder of Airbnb

 

“One unique attribute in Rhode Island is design thinking. It’s absolutely essential; you can’t commoditize design or human creativity. In the age of the algorithm and A.I., anything that can be crunched will be crunched, but design rests on human creativity. Design, storytelling and the creation of empathy and relationships will become the most valuable scarcity.” —Andrew Keen, author/speaker/Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur

 

“Rhode Island excels in design, whether it’s tech design or traditional design, and we punch above our weight in engineering, between what’s coming out of Brown and the University of Rhode Island.” —Jon Duffy, president of Duffy & Shanley

 

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

 

“The Community College of Rhode Island students epitomize innovation. When I think about innovation, I think about out-of-the-box thinking and resourcefulness, and in order to be an effective community college student you need to figure out how to work a couple of jobs, support your family and be a successful college student, so it’s just baked into their DNA. … They’re working in spaces that are very digitally driven, where they’re being required to really innovate on the move in order to serve the kind of employers that they’re going to go on to serve once they cross our graduation stage.” —Dr. Megan Hughes, president of Community College of Rhode Island

 

“There’s only one Silicon Valley. There only ever will be. We’d be ill-advised to try to replicate it. We have our own unique assets, and yet we can also draw upon that other fount of innovation in the country at the moment, Boston and Cambridge.” —Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island secretary of commerce

 

“There are a couple of drivers behind our innovative mindset. When we think about Rhode Island being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution 200 plus years ago and then we think of creating, designing and building the Block Island Wind Farm in 2016, [you can see that] it’s in our DNA. We have to innovate. It’s who we are. And it’s a really small state so the great part about being small among many is that we have a huge concentration of talent here [who are] furthering this design thinking and innovation.” —Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBS RI

 

“Without question, there’s a sense of innovation amongst our higher education institutions. A lot of our colleges and universities in the state are on the cutting edge in thinking about how to do curricular renewal and how to change the quality of the collegiate experience so that we’re preparing graduates who are more engaged and have more relevant skill sets and talent to engage with today’s economy.” —Frank Sanchez, president of Rhode Island College

 

The ability to solve problems in creative and innovative ways can be a game-changer for an organization. We invite you to visit our EntrepreneurProvidenceRI.com site to dive into the talent opportunities in our state. 

 

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. 

Rhode Island: Where Entrepreneurs Come To Thrive

 

When is a startup no longer a startup? That’s a question that Rhode Island companies like Luca + Danni, Maternova and Lotuff Leather have had to seriously consider over the past year, as explosive growth has ensured they’re now among the fastest-growing businesses in the state.

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Luca + Danni, a jewelry brand founded by CEO Fred Magnanimi in 2014 in honor of his late brother, has experienced especially significant growth: In May of this year alone, its e-commerce channel attracted seven figures worth of sales, resulting in over 25,000 orders placed and shipped. That’s a 1,300 percent increase in sales compared to May 2016.

 

Another Rhode Island success story can be found in Maternova, which provides obstetric and newborn technologies to private hospitals, governments, Ministries of Health, NGOs and healthcare professionals around the world. Founded in 2009 by CEO Meg Wirth, who bootstrapped the business for several years with the help of grants and seed funding, Maternova is now cash flow positive, scaling its business model, partnering with several corporates and smaller scale entrepreneurs and selling larger volumes of life-saving innovations. 

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Luca + Danni and Maternova’s respective CEOs, Fred and Meg, will join Jonas Clark, associate director of Brown University’s Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, at a roundtable on Nov. 20 to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in Rhode Island. Ellen McNulty-Brown, CEO of Lotuff Leather, will also be on hand to talk about doing business in Providence. The handbag maker, which has been called “the Hermes of the U.S.,” is now carried in boutiques and department stores around the world, having grown from three to nearly 20 employees over a period of several years.

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Fred, Meg and Ellen have all experienced firsthand how Rhode Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown fertile as a result of the availability of resources, mentors and seed money (in the form of tax credits, grants, angel investment groups and more). Thanks to our governor and legislature’s leadership on pension and Medicaid reform, Rhode Island has reined in structural costs and flattened business’ trajectories with a suite of new incentives aimed at growing businesses and creating jobs. And a strong and tightly connected network of partners and student programs support innovators on their way to the next milestone.

 

Further, the state has devoted numerous spaces, place and accelerators to innovation. One of these is a new innovation district, anchored by a renovated century-old power station that is now shared by Brown University (which houses all of its administrative offices there) and the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College (which have jointly opened a state-of-the-art nursing school inside the building).

 

Russell Carey, Brown’s executive vice president for planning and policy, told The New York Times this month: “It’s an unusual partnership—a land-grant school like U.R.I. and an institution like Brown. I’ve never seen anything like it.”


To learn more about entrepreneurship in Rhode Island, we invite you to attend the #WhyRI: Entrepreneurship, Innovation & You roundtable, being held on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Petteruti Lounge at Brown University (75 Waterman Street Providence, RI 02912). Click here to RSVP. The roundtable is being sponsored by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Providence and Brown University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship.

 

And, as always, know that you can count the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce among the resources readily available for entrepreneurs in the state. We are committed to sparking innovation and supporting new and aspiring Ocean State businesses at every stage of growth.

 

 

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.” 

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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.