Saul Kaplan Hopes RI Can Implement Some Amazon HQ2 Ideas Even if We Fail

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


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Mr. innovation Saul Kaplan

Saul Kaplan, Founder and Chief Catalyst of Business Innovation Factory, says Rhode Island's submission to land Amazon HQ2 had some interesting ideas that should be implemented regardless if the pitch is successful.

Kaplan made the statements while appearing on Business Monday on GoLocal LIVE sponsored by Deepwater Wind. Kaplan said the ideas about bringing the colleges together into an academy for innovation could be used to help grow Rhode Island businesses.

Kaplan or "Mr. Innovation" can be seen each Monday at 4:30 PM on GoLocal LIVE. WATCH HIS FULL APPEARANCE


Related Slideshow: 7 Reasons Why It’s Smart for Amazon to Select Providence

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Uber and Airbnb CEOs Claim RI Pedigrees

Uber and Airbnb are arguably two of the most disruptive and innovative companies in the United States and both of their leaders are Providence educated.

RI ranks as the third worst state for retaining its college grads.  According to AOL Finance, nearly 70 percent of Rhode Island college grads leave the state.

We produce the smart kids. Amazon would keep them here and bring more in.

Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is a 1991 Brown grad and Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky is a RISD grad. 

Chesky earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from RISD in Industrial Design in 2004.

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Raimondo is Good at Giving Away Money to Out-of-State Companies

Amazon will make its selection based on a number of factors, but the number one factor will be who puts the best deal on the table.

Governor Gina Raimondo has given out hundreds of millions of dollars to a sweeping array of companies - Wexford, Virgin, GE, and Johnson & Johnson.

Wexford is still stalled and GE's jobs may be at risk as the company is looking to implement major cost saving measures. 

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We Have Space

There are not many cities that could host a campus inside the city that could house 50,000 workers, but Providence, with a little creativity, might be able to pull it off.

Between the Superman building, 195 land parcels (and toss in all of Kennedy Plaza) - there is space. Superman can house upwards of 3,000 employees and 195 has 26.41 acres of available land and 6,367,264 square footage.

Who would have thought that our inability to get anything done could turn into a competitive advantage?

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Location, Location, Location

Providence is perfectly located to be able to reach more than 55 million people in the Northeast -- and with Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, there is a greater strategic importance here. 

Amazon has added 900 high paying tech jobs in Boston and 1,800 in warehousing and logisitics jobs in Fall River, but Boston cannot provide the space and Fall River cannot provide the educated work force.  

Enter Providence. 

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Transportation Infrastructure

The growth of T.F. Green and the addition of nearly 20 direct flights, including international flights is a game changer. A year ago, Green offered 17 direct flights and now it is 35.

Providence's proximity to I-95, I-195, and I-295 gives ground access to the region. In comparison to cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore -- Providence-metro area congestion pales in comparison. 

Quonset and the Port of Providence add additional infrastructure resources. Planes, trains, automobiles (and boats) -- Providence is well situated, and accessible.  See the next slide. 

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Boston, a Suburb of Providence

For years, economists have talked about Providence's economy being tied to Boston's success. But, Boston is jammed packed, expensive, and nearly at construction capacity.

Boston has one of the five lowest commercial office space rates in America. Hard to see how Boston could add 50,000 workers. 

Conversely, tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders - many of the most skilled in the state - are traveling daily to Boston for their jobs and to benefit from the higher pay.

Amazon's HQ2 would transform Providence and create a much more peer and inter-related regional business powerhouse.

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Game Changer - Samuel Slater, Part II

Winning Amazon's HQ2 would be the most transformative change to the Rhode Island economy since Samuel Slater arrived in Rhode Island in 1789.

Rhode Island's political infrastructure can be petty and divisive, but the opportunity to bring in an absolute game-changer might be the motivation for all of Rhode Island to join together.

"Frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out." -- Jeff Bezos


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