“The energy of downtown Providence is electric—a great combination of arts, culture, and small and large businesses to make it the perfect creative space for our employees to work.”
—BILLY LAGOR, FORMER SENIOR VP OF US MARKETING, HASBRO
More than 80 restaurants, a dozen cultural venues, 8 hotels and 40 shops and galleries are concentrated within a few blocks. The downtown neighborhood is compact, but with plenty of options for coffee, fresh baked goods, networking lunches, and happy hours, you might feel like you’re in a much larger city. And just beyond the historic shopping core, you can also walk to Providence Place, a regional entertainment center with 170 retail tenants, an IMAX theater and 16 additional move screens. Visit our interactive Downtown Directory to explore the neighborhood.
Learn more about downtown Providence’s central location, just 50 miles from downtown Boston, at the intersection of I-95 and I-195. Within Rhode Island, employees and customers can easily get here by taking RIPTA bus service. Providence is located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, less than an hour from Boston. Employees and customers can also take MBTA commuter rail service north to Boston and suburban communities, and south to TF Green Airport and Wickford Junction. Learn more about getting here and parking.
Available Office Space
More than half of the office space in Rhode Island is concentrated in Providence’s downtown core, widely recognized for its architectural beauty.
Whether you’re a large company or a small start-up, your best options can be found right here, within close proximity to universities, hospitals and research facilities, and at a reasonable cost. Downtown has everything from open lofts in historic buildings to flexible shared spaces and elegant class A towers. Investments in telecommunications in the area have created network infrastructure that is among the best in the nation.
To find the right location for your company in downtown Providence: call The Providence Foundation at (401) 521-3248 or download our listing of available properties. You may also contact downtown brokers and property managers directly.
State and City Programs
The State of Rhode Island offers a Small Business Loan Fund for up to $200,000 in working capital, among other programs. There is a corporate tax reduction for the creation of jobs, a job training tax credit and a host of other tax incentives. Downtown Providence is in a state Enterprise Zone that can provide more tax incentives for corporations. Visit commerceri.com for complete information.
The City of Providence, through its Providence Economic Development Partnership, offers a variety of small business loans along with workforce training programs, site location help, and other technical assistance including a tax stabilization program for phone and computer equipment. If you’re considering relocating your business to Providence or renovating a commercial building, review the City Guide to Permitting. This document provides an overview of zoning conformance, plan review and construction processes. Submittal requirements are clearly outlined, and contacts are provided. Visit the Inspections & Standards page for more details.
Rhode Island corporations and agencies can provide a variety of types of financing. In addition, many venture capital companies from around the country have been active in Providence. See this listing of potential capital sources.
Comparison of Operational Costs with Other States
You can easily compare taxes, labor costs, electricity costs, housing costs and commute times in Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Delaware by downloading the Business Climate Analysis PDF file. (NOTE: As of January 1, 2015, Rhode Island’s new corporate tax rate will be reduced to 7%.)
ATTRACTING AND RETAINING TALENTED WORKERS
Progressive companies that want to attract and retain the best talent locate in places that give their employees commuting choices and a variety of amenities within walking distance.
According to Edward McMahon, Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute, “Drive-only suburban office parks are going to be pretty unattractive when young people want walkable places.”
Downtown Providence has several examples of companies that relocated and expanded within the neighborhood. Several years ago, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island decided to move into a new building downtown because the amenities and public transportation options were best suited for their employees. Andera, a growing computer software company, surveyed its workforce before selecting its new expanded location. Survey results showed that 80% of employees wanted to stay downtown within walking distance to Kennedy Plaza, and 91% believed that the downtown location was important to the company’s image and ability to attract more talent.
Providence is home to campuses of the following:
- Brown University
- Community College of Rhode Island
- Johnson & Wales University
- Providence College
- Rhode Island College
- Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
- Roger Williams University
- University of Rhode Island
With a concentration of 25,000 full-time students and 10,000 part-time and continuing education students, the city sustains a vibrant academic and social environment. Students take advantage of internships at downtown companies, and graduates form a strong local talent pool for jobs. Local students and alumni are a creative bunch with popular majors such as industrial design, graphic design, business, engineering, bio-med, computer science, math and statistics.
Continuing Education Opportunities
- Brown offers a variety of adult and professional courses and degrees, including an executive MBA. Programs are based out of 200 Dyer Street, near the Financial District.
- Johnson & Wales has convenient evening and weekend classes with degree, certificate, and noncredit options.
- RISD offers more than 100 courses per semester in visual arts, advertising, computer programs and more.
- The URI-Feinstein Providence campus offers degree certificate and non-credit programs at night.
- Roger Williams University also offers continuing education programs at its Metro Center campus downtown.
Quality of Life
Since downtown Providence is centrally located within Southern New England, workers can commute easily from a variety of locations. Find information about commuting options including discounted carpooling rates, EcoPass, and more.
With 3,200 housing units in the downtown area, many employees walk or bike to work. Popular neighborhoods like College Hill, Fox Point, Federal Hill, and West Broadway are also located within a mile of downtown, providing more residential options nearby. The historic downtown district is an interesting place to explore on foot! In fact, Walkscore describes the city core as a ‘Walker’s Paradise,’ giving the Westminster Square building a score of 100!
Creative, collaborative and welcoming—when you move or start your business downtown you’ll you immediately find yourself in a community that wants you to succeed and is willing to help.
- Network with Providence’s unique blend of artists, geeks and suits at Providence Geeks
- Find a start-up space with assistance from the Founders League, a consortium that offers support and programming for entrepreneurs at all stages.
- Meet tons of other smart, interesting people! Check out presentations at monthly Pecha Kucha and Clambake get-togethers.
- Kick-off each week with a beer at Startup Drinks on Monday nights.
- Looking for more experience and inspiration? Participate in the annual Business Innovation Factory summit and A Better World by Design conference.
- For information about business loans, microloans, incentives, and relocation assistance, contact the Providence Department of Economic Development.
- Contact our active and innovative Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
- Learn about Greater Rhode Island: Think Bigger, a statewide economic development partnership that positions us well within the New York–Boston corridor.
- Why is Providence being called the hottest start-up community in the Greater Boston region? Entrepreneur Providence can tell you.
Major companies with downtown Providence offices include Hasbro, Adler Pollock & Sheehan, Bank of America, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI, Citizens Bank, Edwards Wildman, GTech, Hinckley Allen & Snyder, Santander Bank, Textron, Verizon, and Washington Trust. Technology companies include: Swipely, Andera, Forensic Risk Alliance, MojoTech, Retail Solutions, Precision Design Studios, and In-Quest Technologies.
ELECTRICITY & Telecommunications services
A downtown Providence location will mean more electricity reliability and more choices for telecommunications.
Downtown Providence has an underground electric system that isn’t subject to customary weather-related outages. According to National Grid, a secondary network system supplies the area generally bounded by I-195, the former I-195, the Providence River and Kennedy Plaza. Loads are supplied by taps from an interconnected system of low-voltage circuits. Due to the redundancy of supply, outages on the system are rare.
Verizon has made significant investments in order to create a fast, reliable and sustainable network that meets the business community’s growing broadband, communications and information demands. In 2012, Verizon invested more than $113 million into its network and internet technology infrastructure in Rhode Island, providing businesses with advanced voice, data and video services.
Cox Business also provides downtown Providence with voice, video and data services for a broad range of businesses including healthcare providers, higher education, financial institutions and governmental offices. All Cox Business services in Providence are delivered over the carrier-class, fully-owned and managed multi-gigabit Cox network, ensuring the highest levels of security, quality, redundancy and reliability.
Fiber Tech Networks provides dedicated internet, ethernet services, and dark fiber services on dedicated lines in their own network that reaches throughout the Northeast and Middle Atlantic.
Windstream Corp., located in downtown Providence, provides dedicated internet, ethernet, fixed wireless services.
Towerstream provides business-to-business high-speed wireless broadband.
Provdotnet, LLC provides retail collocation and offers options from 1U to ¼ cabinet to multiple cabinets to caged suites. It is also on ISp and carrier neutral so it can either provide blended B6P-IP connectivity or customers can use a carrier of their choice
Unlike many coastal communities, downtown Providence is protected from coastal flooding. Downtown properties are either located outside flood prone areas or are protected by the Hurricane Barrier which is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and has protected downtown for over 50 years. Click here for more information about FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.