The surest way to combat the “brain drain” that is costing the state so many of the talented graduates from local colleges and universities is to create jobs for them when they are done with school.
Better yet, how about helping them create their own jobs here? In large measure, that is exactly what a new program involving Providence and three private organizations dedicated to starting and growing businesses in the region are hoping to do.
The Providence Innovation Investment Program is funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In short, the city will loan a startup that promises to locate within Providence for a year $50,000 at favorable terms, with an option for the city to convert the debt to equity down the road.
Tethered to the program are Betaspring, the private startup-accelerator program, the state’s Slater Technology Fund and Cherrystone Angel Group. The three groups occupy slightly different spaces in the business-investment ecosystem, with Betaspring being the touchstone to more businesses through its 12-week mentorship program. In fact, the 11 companies that went through the program this summer are eligible for the loans, and a number of them are negotiating right now for the loans.
Along with the $2 million that Betaspring and $9 million that Slater received earlier this fall through the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, Rhode Island finds itself better positioned to grow businesses – and create jobs – than ever before. Perhaps it’s time to come up with a new nickname for the state. How does Startup Central sound? •