Global company Virgin Pulse, part of Sir Richard Branson's famed Virgin Group, will expand its operation in downtown Providence by more than 400 percent
Governor Gina M. Raimondo made her second major jobs announcement of the week today during a State Room press conference with senior executives from Virgin Pulse, leaders from the General Assembly, members of the congressional delegation and members of her cabinet. Virgin Pulse, which acquired ShapeUp Inc. earlier this year, will significantly expand its Rhode Island presence and create nearly 300 new jobs in the next five years.
"When Virgin Pulse bought ShapeUp, the worst kept secret among business leaders was that they were looking to move north to Boston. Because of the great, talented people who live here and because of the economic tools we've created with help from the General Assembly, instead of losing 65 good-paying jobs to Boston, we're going to create nearly 300," said Governor Raimondo. "I am thrilled that Dave, Derek and the Virgin Pulse executive team took a fresh look at Rhode Island. I look forward to bringing a box of Dunkin' Donuts coffee to their offices to meet their new employees. We will continue to make the necessary investments in our people so that Rhode Islanders have the skills they need to compete for the jobs Virgin Pulse, GE Digital, CIC, Wexford and others are creating right here in Rhode Island."
Virgin Pulse is the leading provider of software and technology solutions that increase employee productivity and business performance by improving employee health, wellbeing and engagement. Third-party analysis projects the expansion will generate an additional $10.5 million in revenues to the state and nearly $60 million of additional GDP, once Virgin Pulse completes its full hiring.
"We considered a Boston office but ultimately chose Providence because of the access to talent and supportive business climate," said David Osborne, President and COO of Virgin Pulse. "Our growth strategy is centered on hiring high-potential, early-in-career talent. With its hip vibe, low cost of living and high density of college students, Providence was a great fit from both a business and cultural perspective."
Virgin Pulse already employs 65 people in its Providence office. The company will begin hiring nearly 300 additional staff over the next three to six months and is already seeking applications for open positions.
"Not only does it make good business sense for us, growing our presence in Providence allows our employees to take advantage of the wide range of healthy lifestyle experiences that the city offers," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. "As a company that cares about the health and wellbeing of its employees, it was clear that this walkable city has an active living culture that is well aligned with our corporate mission and values."
Virgin Pulse has applied for economic development incentives under the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act and the Rebuild Rhode Island tax credit program. Specifically, Virgin Pulse would be eligible for $2.5 million in Qualified Job Tax Credits. This tax credit would not take effect until the jobs are created and the people hired are paying state income tax. Additionally, Virgin Pulse has applied for $3.2 million in Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits to support the growth of their footprint from a 29,000-square-foot space to a nearly 90,000-square-foot office in downtown Providence. The request for incentives will be considered at the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board Meeting on December 19.
"It is always good to see companies bringing their jobs and business to Rhode Island. I commend Governor Raimondo and state leaders who made this move possible. This is further evidence that key investments and improvements to the state's business climate can make a real impact," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
"Businesses looking to attract top talent are moving to Rhode Island because that's where top talent wants to be," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Rhode Island is home to world-class universities, a vibrant arts scene, some of the best food in the country, and beautiful beaches and countryside. I'm pleased but not at all surprised that Virgin Pulse has chosen to expand their operation here."
"Virgin is a globally-recognized, well-respected company, and the technology solutions coming out of Virgin Pulse represent an exciting offshoot of a brand already known for its innovation. To have that innovation in our backyard is a huge win for Rhode Island," said Congressman Jim Langevin. "Fresh off the heels of Virgin Pulse's acquisition of our own ShapeUp Inc., this move will preserve existing jobs, bring in hundreds more, and foster additional economic development. This is a signal to the rest of the country that Rhode Island is making strides to roll out the welcome mat for new and growing businesses."
"Rhode Island is on a roll," said Congressman David Cicilline. "This announcement means good-paying jobs for about 300 Rhode Islanders, and the beginning of an important relationship with a major international corporation. Virgin Pulse is exactly the kind of innovative, high-tech company that will help Rhode Island build a sustainable economy for the 21st Century, and this new partnership shows that companies are beginning to realize the benefits of coming to a state with our world-class universities, top-notch workforce, and incredible people."
Virgin Pulse is the latest in a series of announcements Governor Raimondo has made this year of companies choosing Rhode Island because of access to skilled workers and renowned colleges and universities. Earlier this year, Governor Raimondo announced GE Digital was moving its headquarters to downtown Providence. On Tuesday, the morning after the 195 Commission voted on an $18.5 million incentive package, the Governor announced that Wexford/CV Properties has secured key tenants - including Cambridge Innovation Center - for their anchor property in the 195 Innovation and Design District.
"Keeping what began as 'Shape Up' here in Rhode Island after its merger with Virgin Pulse, and adding almost 300 jobs, is great news," President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed said. "Our state is the perfect place to expand a home-grown small business that began as a Brown Medical School student's idea, and that utilizes science and technology to promote healthy cultures and habits in the community and workplace. ShapeUp was part of Rhode Island's health care history and landscape, and we welcome our newest partnership with Virgin Pulse."
"It is exciting news that Virgin Pulse has chosen to invest further in Providence, preserving Rhode Island jobs and creating hundreds more," said Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio. "The brain power emerging from our universities and the talent of our workforce will help fuel Virgin Pulse's growth, and their investment here further positions the city as a center for innovative excellence."
"We continue to change the narrative. Virgin Pulse is yet another company that chose to grow in Providence instead of somewhere else," said Mayor Jorge Elorza. "Companies are recognizing that our creative and innovative culture sets us apart and positions us to be a hub for innovation and technology."
"Prior to its acquisition by Virgin Pulse, ShapeUp benefited immensely from strong partnerships with the Rhode Island state government, local institutions and community leaders. I'm thrilled that Virgin Pulse saw the potential that exists here and decided not only to stay, but to grow our footprint in this supportive and vibrant community," said Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Chief Medical Officer at Virgin Pulse.
"We applaud Virgin Pulse's decision to double down on Rhode Island," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "Virgin Pulse has discovered what we in Rhode Island know - that this state is chock full of tech-ready talent and blessed with world class universities - both of which can support the growth and success of innovation oriented companies. Our economic and workforce development programs make a company's decision easier, giving them new reason to say yes to Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a hub for advanced industries and in just the last year has secured tenants for the Wexford Innovation Complex as well as the technology and innovation divisions of companies such as GE Digital, Finlay Extracts & Ingredients, and now Virgin Pulse to our state."
"Hiring tech talent is a major concern for every business," said Richard Boylan, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Pulse. "The investments in tech talent development in Rhode Island are second to none. The data shows we'll fill our open positions faster in Rhode Island and the employees will stay with us much longer. We have already started working with TechHire RI to ensure we're able to find and train the talent that meets our needs."
About Virgin Pulse Virgin Pulse is the leading provider of technology solutions that promote employee engagement and wellbeing. Part of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Virgin Pulse helps employers create workforces that are happy, healthy, engaged and ultimately more productive. The company's modern, mobile-first platform delivers a personalized user experience that utilizes gamification to engage users in building habits that drive meaningful and measurable change across individuals and entire organizations. By helping employees thrive at work and in all aspects of life, Virgin Pulse is helping change lives and businesses around the world for good. More than 2,200 global organizations including 120 of the Fortune 500 and several Best Places to Work, have selected Virgin Pulse's solutions to engage their workforces and drive their businesses forward.