Rhode Island: Where Businesses and People Thrive
Why more companies and their workers are happy to call Rhode Island home
Rhode Island is making a name for itself as a hotbed of innovation—an up-and-comer as a new business epicenter in New England. In just the past few years, more than 25 businesses have moved or expanded to Rhode Island. And thanks to its many accomplishments, Business Insider ranked the state at No. 9 on its list of strongest state economies in 2018, up from No. 33 in 2016.
While Rhode Island is busy creating an environment where companies can thrive thanks to a compelling business environment, it is also focused on ensuring that people can thrive here, too. An affordable cost of living combined with a burgeoning jobs market make all the things that the state has to offer accessible. Those offerings include world-class academic institutions, an eclectic culinary scene, fantastic microbreweries, amazing outdoor activities, historical sites, cultural institutions and so much more. Rhode Island has great appeal to students and younger folks—and it’s working overtime to keep that talent here by investing in the future with multiple programs to help launch the next generation with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed.
The state understands the value of a strong talent pipeline. Its world-class universities—Brown, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Rhode Island and more—ensure that the talent pool runs deep. It wants to expand accessibility to higher education even further and invest in Rhode Islanders. So it will soon become just the fourth state in the country to make community college free. It also has a program that relieves student loan burdens for up to four years for qualified individuals who work in the state following graduation.
But many of its programs and investments in people start well before college level: Rhode Island leads the nation in expanding career and technical education opportunities (e.g., its P-TECH program allows students to graduate from high school with a diploma and an industry-approved associate degree), and it’s the only state in the U.S. with computer science education in every public school. So, companies can find workers with the skills they need at any level, and with the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that the state fosters.
Rhode Island is a small state with a gigantic personality, evident in growing business areas like Quonset Business Park and the Wexford Innovation district (soon to be home to the Cambridge Innovation Center and Johnson & Johnson), as well as the lively downtowns and neighborhoods that are blossoming, in part, thanks to smart economic tools the state continues to provide entrepreneurs. These include programs such as the Main Street Improvement Fund, the 10,000 Small Businesses partnership and the state’s first-ever small business loan program.
The hard work is paying off: The state’s unemployment rate is down to 4.1 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2000. And in the past few years, Rhode Island has added 21,000 more jobs. These achievements have been possible because the state has strategically focused on both businesses and the people who keep those businesses running. It is creating jobs for today while investing in the future—expanding skill sets so that the next generation will be prepared for the careers of tomorrow.