GreaterRI site to be ‘front door’ to R.I. economic development
THE PROVIDENCE CHAMBER of Commerce, the Cumberland-based Economic Development Foundation and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation have come together to unveil GreaterRI.com, a website that will provide business stories and impartial data about the state and encourage investors and business professions to start or expand businesses here.
PROVIDENCE – Marketing Rhode Island’s strengths and demographics in the Northeast just became easier and more focused, with the launch of a new website dubbed “Greater Rhode Island – Think Bigger.”
Released to the public in an embargoed soft launch today in time for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, the website, www.greaterri.com, officially launches Tuesday morning, said Laurie White, chamber president.
The chamber partnered with the Cumberland-based Economic Development Foundation and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to put together a site replete with impartial data and an emphasis on areas that are the state’s biggest economic drivers, from brain science to consumer-product design.
The goal: To make relocation, start-up or expansion of a business in Rhode Island easier, and communication more unified, White said.
The three partners managing the site will all be engaged in responding to the inquiries expected when real-estate brokers, developers and site consultants explore the data and stories at www.greaterri.com with intent to encourage investors to locate business in this small state wedged between prosperous, dynamic Boston and New York City, said Marcel A. Valois, executive director of the EDC.
“The purpose of this whole project is to get Rhode Island on the radar screen for investors,” Valois said. “We’re trying to add a level of excitement. Should we be successful, somebody is going to say, ‘I’m interested.’ The more we can provide, the more Rhode Island is positioned to get looked at.”
To provide a personal touch, the website’s interactivity adds a heightened level of responsiveness, as the partners manage answers via email until an automated system can be put in place to ease the process, Valois said.
“We’ve got to make sure we can put people in touch with a network of competent service providers at the local level to be able to assist with investment needs,” he said. “That could be bankers, real estate folks, [those with] ties to universities and colleges. Our job is to network them in so they feel comfortable making the investment.”
Since the web is “the front door” to economic development and the place where business owners and developers go first to investigate possible avenues to development or growth, White said, the website was built with the intent of “trying to put the best economic story out there, but understanding that every economic data point will not necessarily be one that’s incredibly positive.”
The International Economic Development Council, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., came up with the range of 1,000 data points that a Brown University professor then filled in on a spreadsheet. The data points include everything from workforce data about payroll costs, salaries and unions to information about quality of life, utilities, transportation and government.
Atlas Advertising of Denver designed the website, based on concepts provided by the Reckoner Group of Newport.
The one-stop shopping comes complete with downloadable reports and a tool for building a customized report based on the information the developer, entrepreneur or business professional needs. There also will be a blog, videos and social-media promotion to keep the site fresh and engage users, White and others said.
The website “is not just for companies looking from outside the state, this is for both outside and inside,” said Economic Development Foundation President Scott Gibbs – for businesses looking to get started within the state or expand here.
GreaterRI also features a searchable real-estate database for land and buildings that are for sale or for lease.
“Companies are spending 60 to 70 percent of their time on these platforms before they do anything else,” Gibbs said, explaining the need for the website and its tools.