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RI Biz Winners and Flops - The PawSox Distraction

Monday, April 13, 2015


Is the PawSox move to Providence a distraction to growing real business?

Rhode Islanders look to a 43-year-old woman to lead the state out of one the worst economies in its history, and hope that Governor Gina Raimondo will begin the process of transforming the economy into a modern and functioning era.

To date, the Raimondo administration has offered a number of “safe” economic development ideas like the Anchor Tax Credit that, “incentivizes our large employers to attract their suppliers to Rhode Island.”  This initiative should be called the CVS Supplier Tax Credit.

The Governor is also pushing again for her Infrastructure bank. Now coined the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, it is designed to rebuild Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. This was originally floated in tandem by then-General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and then-Speaker of the House Gordon Fox a few years ago.

What has been taking the proverbial oxygen out of the room in discussions of economic development has been the proposed PawSox move.
In the past two decades with debt service on the bonds, Rhode Islanders have already spent approximately $30 million to refurbish McCoy Stadium. Now, the new PawSox owners – the Gang of Ten (who combined are worth billions) are looking for the state to provide free land for the park and a hotel.

The ten CEOs are moving less than 30 full-time jobs from Pawtucket to Providence – a distance of less than 10 miles. 

Regardless of the merits of the yet to be disclosed or vetted PawSox project, it seems insignificant in comparison to other more pressing issues.

The Governor, Commerce and the 195 Commission need to be focused on developing the 21 parcels into for-profit, taxable, next-generation commerce that drive job growth and transforms the RI economy.


Spring for Small Business: On Monday, Mayor Jorge Elorza joins Martha Sheridan, President of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau and Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for a press conference to announce the City’s ‘Buy Into Spring’ campaign. The campaign is designed to “encouraging support of local businesses and welcoming in the spring shopping season.” The campaign kicks off at the Arcade.

TEDx Providence: The schedule is set for the Providence event full of speakers on business, innovation and inspiration. The event will take place on Saturday, May 2 at the Columbus Theatre from 9 am-4 pm. Tickets are on sale now at the Columbus Theatre and online at Eventbrite


Snow – Nothing has hurt the RI economy worse than more than 10 feet of snow. As Len Lardaro outlined is his economic index – “February was yet another month of mediocre economic performance for Rhode Island. Fortunately, the actual performance of our state’s economy was a bit better than it appeared to be statistically.” Functionally, according to Lardaro’s measure the economy performed the as it did in February of 2014 – pretty poorly.

Commerce RI: By all measures, for more than seven years Rhode Islanders universally are deeply concerned about the economy. There have been three meetings scheduled this year, two were cancelled and the one that was held, the Governor, who serves as Chair, failed to attend. If Commerce RI’s work is not valuable enough to have monthly meetings, then is it time to reorganize it yet again?

Tourism: The Governor's budget proposes to trim monies away from the regional tourism authorities to better leverage and coordinate the state's efforts. This is a situation in which the locals should continue to recevie support and more dollars need to be poured into both the state effort and the regional.

A GoLocalProv review of Rhode Island's support to promote tourism unveiled that the spending by the State of Rhode Island lagged behind nearly every state in America. 

The story published in December showed how other states vastly out spent on a per-capita level:

In order to fairly compare the Ocean State with others, GoLocalProv examined the budgets for state tourism offices as a ratio of overall state spending. Even when adjusted for the relatively its relatively smaller financial footprint, Rhode Island still ranked almost dead last.

In fiscal year 2013, the most recent for which the data was available, Rhode Island budgeted $710,000 for its state tourism office, .009 percent of $7.8 million of overall spending, according to figures from the National Association of Budget Officers and skift.com, a global travel news and information site.

States like New Hampshire have similar-size budgets but devoted more of them to tourism promotion. New Hampshire spent .137 percent of $5 billion in expenditures on tourism promotion, a rate 15 times higher than Rhode Island. Massachusetts spent more than double at the rate of Rhode Island, with $6.9 million of its $57.5 billion in expenditures set aside for marketing the state to tourists. (See below slides for figures for all states.)


Related Slideshow: 20 Cool Small Businesses in RI

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Trinity Brewhouse

186 Fountain Street, Providence RI

Trinity Brewhouse brews it's own award-winning beers in house, for a fresh experience every time. They also offer a $50 annual fee to become a member of their Mug Club which offers discounts on drinks and food. 

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The Sproutel is well-known for creating Jerry the Bear - an interactive toy that teaches children with diabetes how to care for themselves. The Providence-based business is currently expanding their technology to accommodate children with other conditions.   

Photo: Sproutel

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Pranzi Catering

10 Rosario Dr., Providence, RI 

Pranzi has catered for all types of events from weddings to corporate luncheons. Owner and founder Lisa Mattiello was recently named the "2014 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year" by the Resource Guide for Small Business.

Photo: Pranzi

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The Green Grocer

934 East Main Rd., Portsmouth, RI

The Green Grocer is an organic market out of Portsmouth that supports local farmers. The market has also won many an award under owner John H. Wood II including:  the "Veteran-owned Small Business of the Year" award from the Small Business Administration. 

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Sweet Berry Farm

915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown, RI

Sweet Berry Farm has everything you would expect from a local farmer's market and more. They feature juried art exhibitions, a sit-down cafe, and prepared foods for when you are on the run.  

Photo: Clare Rok

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Verde Vineyards

50 Hopkins Avenue, Johnston, RI

Verde Vineyard is a family owned and operated vineyard based in Johnston.  The business is known for giving free tours and tastings on the weekends. 

Photo: Verde Vineyards

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10 Dorrance St., Providence, RI

Swipely is turning payment systems for businesses into upgraded, secure payment solutions with their innovative technology for businesses of all sizes. 

Photo: Swipely

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212 Westminster St., Providence, RI

Craftland was once a holiday store which came around annually to sell its wares. But now it has grown into a full-time shop front for local artisans to sell everything from jewelry to home goods. 

Photo: Jen Brister of Brister Photo

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Microdermal Pigmentation

989 Reservoir Ave., Cranston, Rhode Island

The Center for Microdermal Pigmentation is the only business of its kind in the area offering permanent makeup solutions.

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New Harvest Coffee

65 Weybosset, Providence, RI

New Harvest Coffee Roasters opened a second location in the Arcade earlier this year and offers a wide variety of cocktails and freshly roasted coffee selections. 

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Medici Gelato

74 Maple Ave., Barrington, RI

Medici Gelato is a tiny shop in Barrington which opened in September and features an ever-changing variety of freshly made authentic gelato (which you can try before you buy), along with tiramisu and cookies!

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279 Water St, Warren, RI

Muse American Handcrafted is tax-free everyday and offers custom wedding band services. All of their jewelry is 100% handcrafted in America by local artisans. 

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Barrington Books

184 County Rd, Barrington, RI

Barrington Books has been awarded year after year as the "Best Independent Bookstore" on the East Bay and often hosts book signings by local authors. 

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1000 Chapel View Blvd., Cranston, RI 

Gents specializes in old-fashioned, full service barber shop and spa. They specialize in services including straight-razor hot shaves, shoe shines and massages. 

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Frog and Toad

795 Hope St., Providence, RI

Frog and Toad of Providence has locally made and handcrafted T-shirts, jewelry, handbags, and home goods as well as free trade items from around the globe. 

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Professor Chef

41 Lookout Ave, North Providence, RI

Professor Chef is run by a husband and wife team and provides courses on how to cook a full course meal, and wine making among others. The courses are highly interactive so taste, prep and enjoy in your home or in their kitchen. 

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bin 312

312 South Main St., Providence, RI

bin 312  features a wide selection of wines and spirits and hosts free tastings every Thursday night!

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11 Olneyville Square, Providence, RI 

Justine's is Olneyville's best kept secret, a speak-easy 1920's bar atmosphere with an actual functioning lingerie shop "front". 

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Frey Florist & Greenhouse

50 Radcliffe Avenue Providence, RI

Frey Florist and Greenhouses has been family owned and operated since 1973, and creates custom arrangements for every occassion that can be delivered around town by request. 

Photo: Frey Florist and Greenhouses

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Providence Perfume Compan

301 Wickenden St., Providence, RI

Providence Perfume Company allows you to create your own signature scent by blending their 100% natural botanical ingredients. 

Photo: Providence Perfume Company


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