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Biz Winners and Flops

Monday, April 30, 2012


Rhode island's economy continues to rank as the worst in the nation. But, some RI businesses are fighting for success and trying break through to lead a resurgence. Each month we take a look at the winners and those that are keeping Rhode Island from joining the rest of the country in a measured recovery. It is clear after years of economic malaise and worsening employment conditions that Rhode Island needs to invest in innovation. 


“Washington Trust posted solid first quarter results, with net income up 24 percent over a year ago,” said Joseph J. MarcAurele, Washington Trust Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased with our performance, as we’ve been able to strategically grow the Corporation, despite continued economic challenges.” Good news out of Westerly.

Betaspring alumni company Tracelytics was part of $5.2M investment from Bain. The Betaspring model is getting more interesting every day. Rhode Island could use the injection.

Dennis Littky, Co-Director, today announced that The Met School’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (E-360) will officially open its doors on May 10th.

Scott Case

The Met School will celebrate Young Entrepreneurs’ Day by inaugurating its 3,600 square foot building dedicated to the study of entrepreneurship and innovation – a site that is the only stand-alone entrepreneurship center for high school students in the country. The Met is a state-funded public school district and local education agency, with 690 high school students in six small schools across three campuses in Rhode Island. Scott Case will be the featured speaker.  He was the founding Chief Technology Officer at Priceline, is the Chairman of Network for Good, and CEO of the Startup America Partnership, an Obama administration initiative targeting entrepreneurs.  The event will be held on Thursday, May 10. Another leap forward for innovator Littky.

If you miss hearing Scott Case speak at the The MET innovation event - RI Small Business Journal is hosting him at its Whiskey and Cigar Social at Sons of Liberty Whiskey Distillery on May 10 from 6-9pm. It is an exclusive event; Scott will talk about the Startup America initiative and how it is helping startup companies around the country.

Channel 10 and Cox Communications team up to launch Ocean State Networks (OSN) on Cox channel 5 and in HD on Cox channel 1005.  “It is exciting to be part of this project,” said Vic Vetters, WJAR/NBC 10 General Manager. “NBC 10 News is the market leader when it comes to local news and we pride ourselves in being everywhere for our viewers." This partnership replaces the old partnership between Cox and Channel 6. Cox has lost about a third of its subscribers since Verizon's FIOS powered up in Southeastern New England.

Saul Kaplan's new book

Saul Kaplan - his new book is a must-read for those in business trying to advance their companies. The book, The Business Model Innovation Factory, provides leaders with the survival skills to create a pipeline of new business models in the face of disruptive markets and competition.

Textron Inc. reported first quarter 2012 income from continuing operations of $0.41 per share, compared to income of $0.10 per share in the first quarter of 2011. Total revenues in the quarter were $2.9 billion, up 15.2% from the first quarter of 2011. Textron's manufacturing segment profit was $247 million, up $80 million from the first quarter of 2011. "The demand environment for our commercial aircraft and industrial products continued to improve, which reinforces our confidence in our outlook for the year," said Textron Chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly.

J.D. Powers scored Rockland Trust Co. the highest in the region with a score of 811 and performs well in the product offerings and fees factors. Eastern Bank follows with a score of 791, and TD Bank ranks third with 770. Rockland opened in RI in the past year downtown.


Remember when Michigan's economy was the joke of the country? Well, even Michigan is on the rebound. “Our Michigan Economic Activity Index has broken sharply higher, showing rapid gains in the Michigan economy in early 2012. We are seeing broad-based gains in economic activity, showing that the revitalization of the auto industry is having a fundamental positive impact on the state economy,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. Michigan's economy has been fueled by two factors: recovery of the auto industry, and, more importantly, a huge investment by the State of Michigan to grow emerging companies. 

RI Unemployment - Massachusetts unemployment is 6.5% and going down and RI's is 11.2% and still going up - enough said.

A recent study by the Federal Reserve paints the scariest of scenarios for Rhode Island's Unemployment Trust Fund - 1) is functionally insolvent 2) employers subject to the state's highest tax rates will face a base that is $1,500 higher than that faced by employers in the state. 

Cumulus Media's "Putting Rhode Islanders Back to Work" campaign/marketing effort seems a little bizzare for the Georgia-based company that purchased the parent company (Citadel Broadcasting) of WPRO AM/FM, Lite 105 and Hot 106 and then promptly fired about 20 Rhode Islanders including Bob Plain, Tony Cornetta, and Art Spencer. 


Editors note - an earlier version identified Betaspring as the receipient of the funding from Bain, rather than their incubated company.  We apologize for the error and still affirm Betaspring is a positve change agent for growth in RI.


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