Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor, in partnership with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, state agencies and Rhode Island Chambers of Commerce, today announced the launch of the Commerce Corporation's new Business Navigation Center. The Center will serve as a starting point for all businesses conducting, or looking to conduct, business in Rhode Island, and is one piece of a larger initiative to make Rhode Island more business friendly.
"Every week, my schedule includes time to reach out to companies to listen, to ask them to take a second look at our state," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "One of the biggest struggles I hear is finding a way to navigate the red tape. With my jobs plan, we have taken huge strides to change to make it easier to do business in Rhode Island, and we're taking another important step forward today with the launch of the Business Navigation Center. This Center will serve as a one-stop shop for existing business looking to grow and new businesses looking to move to here, making government an effective partner in promoting innovation and creating jobs."
The Commerce Corporation also announced the launch of its new website, which specifically caters to the needs to companies in the state and features a custom navigation tool to assist businesses and connect them to the proper resources. The corporation is coordinating with the Rhode Island chambers of commerce to maintain an advisory council that meets regularly and provides invaluable feedback on what is and isn't working for businesses in the state.
"Focusing on business retention and expansion is critical to strengthening Rhode Island's economy. Through creation of our Business Navigation Center, we are providing a one-stop-shop to businesses -- an accessible and responsive concierge service that can get the job done for Rhode Island companies large and small," said Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce.
Today's event was held at the new Artic Tool & Engineering Company facility in Greenville, RI. As the first company to receive services through the new Business Navigation Center they were able to find a new location and obtain a loan to purchase it.
"The team at the Commerce Corporation makes it easier to do business in Rhode Island," said CEO of Artic Tools & Engineering Company Michael Gamache. "We needed more space to grow our operations here in Rhode Island, and they helped us find a new facility to do that. They also walked us through the process of obtaining financing to acquire and renovate the building to suit our need. Now we are in a position to increase sales and our workforce."
"Whenever we can combine the efforts of those entities that want to help businesses grow the ultimate winners are the employers and employees. Running a business is hard long work. This effort will give business anther partner to assist in growth and retention, said John Gregory, President of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce."
The center, located at the Commerce Corporation in Providence, currently has five, highly-qualified advisors on staff; they can be considered the concierge office to the resort that is Rhode Island, ready to help any start-up or existing business. To add a personal touch, each client is assigned one advisor, which will enable the advisors to become intimately knowledge about the needs of their clients. Based on the information received, the advisor, personally, will guide the client through the solution to address each business need. Potential clients can connect with the Business Navigation Center online through the Commerce Corporation's website.
Businesses can use the center for: • Business planning and general counseling through center resource partners • Pre-qualifying and, ultimately, qualifying for a business loan • Applying for and, ultimately, receiving specialty certifications for government contracts • Locating a business site • Entering the international market • Using university business engagement centers for specific business-related projects • Working with the Department of Labor and Training on workforce development, layoff aversion options and new hire skills assessment • Minimizing energy costs via the Renewable Energy Fund • Determining which state incentives apply
The advisory council – comprised of the Providence, Northern Rhode Island, Central Rhode Island and Newport Chambers of Commerce, joined by Mark Hayward of the Small Business Administration regional office – provide a level of local and regional oversight to business needs and offer improvement suggestions on how the center can better meet the needs of clients.
Through the center, the Commerce Corporation will offer a unique service to address the complexities of starting a business and to showcase the toolkit of programs available to existing businesses in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island, through the Business Navigation Center, is open for business.
Any businesses interested in learning more should contact Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Vice President of Client Services Elizabeth Tanner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 278-9195.