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The Ocean State WAVE

Growing Economic Opportunities in Rhode Island


Workforce Development



Advanced Industries & Innovation



Visitor Attraction



Enterprise Expansion & Recruitment


Workforce Development

Building the skills for success

Rhode Islanders have charted a course of innovation dating back to the 18th century, and they will propel us through the 21st century at top speed. As part of a broader effort to help people gain the skills they need to compete and to match employers with qualified employees, we are:

  1. Restructuring our workforce training system to be more employer driven and performance based through our Department of Labor and Training. We are aligning our training efforts with the needs of employers to make sure Rhode Islanders have the right skills for success. We are training people for jobs that actually exist. This effort will yield a more responsive workforce development system that we will pair with rigorous performance measurement to create better opportunities for more Rhode Islanders.
  2. Building education/employer partnerships for grades 9-14 in key sectors to increase coordination among high schools, community colleges and businesses to forge clear pathways to good careers. The program is designed in collaboration with IBM was recently introduced in several high schools in Connecticut and New York to move groups of entering freshman through five or six years of curriculum and mentorship, with an associate’s degree and good job waiting at the end. For Rhode Island’s large employers, and clusters of employers, similar partnerships could create a steady stream of talented, trained workers. For our young people, these partnerships would mean opportunity.
  3. Establishing a college loan reimbursement program to keep young, talented students here after graduation. Our competitive “Wavemaker Fellowship” initiative will reimburse annual student loan payments for four years for about 100 graduates pursuing careers or starting businesses in technology, engineering, design and other key sectors. Two-thirds of the fellowships will be for Rhode Islanders, with the remaining spots awarded to out-of-state students to fuel our economy further.
  4. Sparking the creation of more affordable housing, using state funds to leverage federal dollars and preserve or produce up to 300 housing units. This initiative will provide more affordable housing for young workers and others, and it will create a significant number of good construction jobs in the process.
  5. Creating opportunities for students to pursue college credit or a career after high school through Prepare RI, which empowers qualifying students across the state to take post-secondary courses while they’re in high school at no cost to the student. Whether they want to go to college or start a career right after high school, we want to make the path to a degree or industry certification more affordable and more attainable.

Advanced Industries & Innovation

Attracting new business, supporting existing enterprises

There is a set of innovative companies in manufacturing, technology, maritime, food and other sectors that call Rhode Island home. And there are many more budding entrepreneurs in our midst. To help position them for success, we have:

  1. Created a Small Business Assistance Program and an Innovation Initiative to expand access to capital so that small and growing businesses can thrive in Rhode Island. These initiatives will help small businesses across our state expand. The Innovation Initiative combines public and private dollars to support promising companies in advanced manufacturing, technology and other strategically important sectors.
  2. Established an Innovation Voucher program for small and midsize businesses. This competitive program will allow businesses to earn vouchers they can redeem for research and development (R&D) assistance from colleges, universities and other local institutions. Not only will this program spur innovation, but it will also connect small and midsize businesses more closely with the world-class research institutions in Rhode Island, fostering an ecosystem of mutual support and progress.
  3. Developed a program that offers competitive sector grants to catalyze stronger partnerships among companies in key industry sectors. Rhode Island is capitalizing on its geographic size to help businesses within close proximity of one another collaborate to solve problems, exchange technologies and share talent. This program will foster new initiatives, while strengthening existing initiatives, using Rhode Island’s size to maximum advantage and equipping our key sectors to grow.
  4. Added an Anchor Tax Credit to our toolbox to incentivize our largest employers—the anchors of our economy—to attract their suppliers, affiliates and customer companies here to Rhode Island. These employers will benefit from having related businesses close by, and the state will gain new enterprises and jobs.

Visitor Attraction

Rhode Island’s comeback depends upon one of our main industries

We are putting the Ocean State on the radar of tourists considering their next trip and for businesses looking to grow. The state is investing heavily in a statewide campaign to attract visitors and businesses. A positive state image would push the tourists and convention-goers of today to be the residents and business owners of tomorrow. The plan includes:

  1. Launching a major state tourism marketing campaign, promoting Rhode Island as a vacation and leisure destination across the region and country. We will develop a compelling brand for our state and deploy our resources across various media. We aim to turn heads, change minds and drive decisions — all with the goal of presenting Rhode Island as the best place in New England to vacation.
  2. Launching a focused business marketing campaign, in partnership with chambers of commerce and local businesses, to promote Rhode Island at conventions across the country, in conversations among chief executives, and on the roadways and airwaves. We will leverage private dollars and put Rhode Island on the map for investment and growth.

Enterprise Expansion & Recruitment

Growing business and attracting investment

Growing and attracting businesses is essential to Rhode Island’s economic growth. Rhode Island has added new incentives to help businesses grow, expand and create jobs. We are introducing:

  1. A job creation tax credit, with special emphasis on well-paying jobs in advanced industries. Our goal is to enable employers ranging from large manufacturers to small tech companies to hire more workers – providing opportunities to our residents and fueling the growth of our businesses.
  2. First Wave funds to catalyze major real estate developments in the 195 District and statewide, bringing large numbers of jobs and opportunities to Rhode Island. We will attract new world-class institutions and other key assets to the Knowledge District – nestling them among outstanding universities and hospitals that already call this district their home. Statewide, these funds provide us the flexibility to make critical investments, resolve make-or-break issues and close big developments that bring good jobs to Rhode Island.
  3. A real estate tax credit, tradable and redeemable,to fill up to 30% of a financing gap in building a facility. This real estate tax credit carries the additional benefit of a sales tax exemption on construction materials.
  4. Statewide tax increment financing that allows the state to direct up to 75% of the new state tax revenues generated by a development project or infrastructure upgrade to help finance that endeavor.
  5. A business one-stop service and building permit initiative to help businesses navigate red tape and approval processes at the state and local levels. In addition to shepherding businesses through state regulations and requirements, the one- stop service connects them with state programs and services to help them grow. Our municipal permit initiative, meanwhile, ensures efficient building permit and fire inspection processes for state-supported projects, helping more job-creating developments go from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting.
  6. An Infrastructure Bank and Main Street RI initiative to help businesses lower energy costs and municipalities invest in needed infrastructure. The Infrastructure Bank will help Rhode Island create jobs, reduce energy costs, and conserve energy by becoming a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy development. It combines a number of energy-related programs from across the state government and creates an accessible set of resources for businesses and residents seeking green solutions and savings.

The Ocean State Wave
Tourism Marketing Plan

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