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slides: 12 Biggest Business Stories in RI in 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012


RI's economy has been virtually stagnant for the entire year. Unemployment remains among the worst in the country, the state lost more than $100 million in an investment in a gaming company and nearly every national business ranking puts Rhode Island at or near the bottom.

Despite these facts, not every business story was negative. There were some bright spots.

GoLocalProv.com reports on the 12 biggest business stories on the year in Rhode Island.

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#12 Obamacare in RI

The biggest change in the American healthcare system is soon to hit Rhode Island in a big way. The State chose to pursue the health exchange model and brought in national healthcare expert and RI native Christy Ferguson to lead the effort.

Amy Gallagher's Smart Benefits column covers the issue and impact to small businesses and their employees.

Watch for this issue to be even bigger in 2013.

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#11 Shrinking Projo

The world of media is experiencing change bordering on the hyperbolic. No entity in media has been more adversely impacted than local newspapers in mid-sized markets. 

The Providence Journal, once the must-read in the community with daily circulation of more than 200,000 is now down to a fraction of that - less than 70,000 in circulation.

The Journal's paywall has only made its demise quicker as folks searching for news via smartphones and tablets have jumped to GoLocal and other electronic options for local news.

Recently, they laid off 25 and took buyouts from 11. Now, they are trying to sell their Fountain Street building.

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#10 RISurgence + RIPEC

After the functional collapse of RI's Economic Development Corporation, the effort to rebuild the economic functions of RI fell to the business community.

RIPEC offered a report on how to restructure economic development functions and the RI Foundation brought hundreds together to try and restructure and energize the community.

The crowd sourcing initative - RISurgence - fostered by Marcel Valois and Scott Gibbs offers the most hope. The RISurgence effort works to include all voices and continues into 2013.

READ the article.

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#9 BIZ Rankings

Sadly, Rhode Island seems to capture the #49 or #50 position in most every business ranking.

Forbes ranks Rhode Island 49th.

CNBC scores RI 50th.

In Tax Climate, RI ranks 48th.

Retirement - 47th.

The good news is RI scores towards the tops for health, connectivity, and entrepenuership. 

It took decades for RI to get into this situation - now is the opportunity to move forward.

READ the article.

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#8 Port of Prov

In early December Governor Chafee, US Senator Jack Reed and David Cicilline led a group of elected officials to announce that two new state-of-the-art heavy lift mobile cranes were on order.

The cranes, funded by $10.5 million in federal funds and approximately the same in private financing, will allow the Port of Providence and the non-profit that runs the facility, ProvPort, to continue their growth.

READ the article.

The impact will be hundreds of new jobs for longshoremen. The project will create hundreds of new jobs with an annual salary and benefits of $80,000. 

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#7 Arcade's Return

For more than a century RI could claim that it was home to the longest continuously operating shopping mall. Then, the Arcade in downtown Providence closed and remained vacant for years.

Now, the Greek revival edifice is being transformed to a combination of retail and downtown micro apartments. See the Video.

The renovation, which began in early 2012, is expected to spring to life in early 2013. The effect will be new life to the financial district and an indication of rebirth in the core of the city.

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#6 CVS, Textron & Hasbro

RI hosts two Fortune 500 companies - CVS and Textron - and the ever more critical Hasbro. All of the companies have been stable and offer potential for Rhode Island's growth.

Hasbro's stock has been stable and their growth to downtown in the former Blue Cross building will be a boon to city.

CVS continues to drive stability and employment in northern RI. CVS is ranked #18 on the Fortune 500.

Textron, founded by RIer Royal Little continues to be dynamic as a conglomerate and is now ranked #236.

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#5 Alex and Ani

Alex and Ani is a hometown success story. Building on RI's legacy of jewelry, design and manufacturing, the RI jewelry design firm successfully raised $75 million in private capital.

The local ownership is looking to diversify as jewelry trends can be fleeting. Look for Alex and Ani to continue to grow and expand its product offering.

You have to love the generosity - $1 million gifts to both Bryant University and Rhode Island College in 2012.

READ the article.

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#4 Kaplan and BIF

Saul Kaplan and his Business Innovation Factory (BIF) are Rhode Island's own TED Conference.

The smart and energetic business consultant has created energy and vibrance in Rhode Island around innovation.

His BIF conference brings in leading thinkers and business leaders.

In 2012, Kaplan released his new book, The Business Model Innovation Factory, which is a guide book to start-ups and to companies looking to reinvent their products, systems and services.

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#3 Jet Blue

The effort to recruit JetBlue to Rhode Island was a big win for Governor Lincoln Chafee and Providence Economic Development Director Jim Bennett.

The two worked for nearly a year to bring the high quality, low cost airline to Rhode Island.

Chafee's vision for the airport is beginning to take hold. Bennett's high energy and salesmanship worked well for the state.

READ the article.

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#2 Real Estate Recovery

Rhode Island's economy took an extra hit in this recession due to the collapse of the real estate markets.

The good news is real estate may be back and back strong in 2013.

All indications are the housing market in recovering and this will have a significant and positive impact on Rhode Island's economy.

Read the article.

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#1 38 Studios

38 Studios' collapse was the biggest economic story of the year and created a scar on the psyche of RI.

GoLocal's leading coverage unveiled secret documents and tracked the entire sad story.

Lincoln Chafee turned out to be right when he panned the funding of Curt Schilling's company when he was a candidate for Governor.

The gaming company burned through millions in just over a year and its collapse cost Rhode Island hundreds of jobs and over $100 million.

Chafee is now in the midst of seeking payment from law firms, former employees and financial firms linked to the company's demise.

The collapse was simply the biggest story in 2012.


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any info on whether the Projo is adapting to the online market instead of continuing to push paper? the circulation death spiral could also have to do with the paper's constant support of the hacks that are keeping RI in the economic cellar.

Comment #1 by Mateo C on 2012 12 27

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