Facilitating the Exchange of Ideas
The City of Providence, Rhode Island has transitioned over the past 20 years from a historically manufacturing-based economy to one that has its foundation in technology, the creative industries, and higher education. Access to the NEC has played a role in Providence’s resurgence by enabling local companies to recruit employees that live in Boston, providing access to jobs in Boston for Providence residents, providing access to investors in the New York area, enabling business collaboration with companies located in other cities, and by facilitating cultural exchanges between Providence and Boston and New York.
With millions of dollars in federal investment, the city of Providence uncovered rivers, relocated its downtown train station, served by Amtrak and MBTA, — and moved I-195. This infrastructure improvement, coupled with the presence of major universities, particularly Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, gives Providence an advantage in the world of creative capital. The NEC has helped position Providence, not only as a thriving bedroom community to Boston, but as center of idea exchange and innovation.
Charlie Kroll, CEO of Andera, a 70-employee technology company, and his senior management team, take Acela to travel between the company’s headquarters in Providence and their New York City office on a weekly basis. Frequent travel between the offices is necessary as Mr. Kroll feels strongly that he and his senior management team need “face time” in both offices to maintain a cohesive corporate culture and to collaborate successfully. Without access to New York City via rail, Mr. Kroll believes that it would be hard to maintain offices in separate locations. Andera executives rely upon Amtrak’s travel time predictability to make having offices in both New York and Providence possible. Andera’s investors located in New Jersey also use Amtrak and New Jersey Transit to visit their headquarters in Providence.
Commuter rail and Amtrak access also is a factor in how Andera recruits its high-tech talent. While the company has a few employees that commute from Boston today, in general the lack of fast and affordable rail service between Boston and Providence is a stumbling block in their ability to attract talent.
Co-working space in Providence, Rhode Island serving design professionals. Source: flickr user Lindsay Kinkade.
“Having the NEC connect Providence to New York and Boston is a competitive advantage when attracting, young talented workers. The ability to move up and down the East Coast with ease is wonderful for business and for cultural exchange between cities.”
— Aidan Petrie, Chief Innovation Officer for Ximedica
Ximedica is a medical device company located in Providence, Rhode Island