Make It Happen RI

In the fall of 2012, over 300 participants met at the Rhode Island Convention Center to set a new economic course for Rhode Island. We came together again in January 2014 to revisit progress and plans. 

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Make It Happen RI 1.0

Download Make It Happen RI 1.0 Progress Report 


Initiatives Underway

We invested more than $1 million in 19 projects stemming from the Make It Happen RI economic development initiative, over and above our normal grantmaking.

  • -- $100,000 

    To develop and implement a statewide education and outreach campaign that will address the current and future workforce needs of Rhode Island businesses through the expansion of internships and other work-based learning. The initiative is a partnership between the R.I. Student Loan Authority, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, Governor’s Workforce Board, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and R.I. Partnership Project.
  • Buy Local RI

    The Foundation will enhance resources to sustain and grow this effort, initiated by the office of Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts with assistance from the Small Business Advocacy Council, to promote locally owned independent businesses, strengthen Rhode Island’s merchant and commercial associations, and provide a public resource for people to connect to local products and services.
  • College and University Research Collaborative -- $100,000

    A first-of-its-kind partnership to provide data for informed economic policy decisions in Rhode Island. The Collaborative will focus on consensus state economic policy issues identified by public policy representatives from the executive and legislative branches of state government. Foundation funding was matched by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.
  • Design and Manufacturing Center -- $25,000

    The RI Economic Development Corporation, academic, nonprofit and industry leaders will develop a plan to create a collaborative manufacturing and design center. The center would provide support services, worker training, research and development assistance, and product development to local manufacturers. This is a match to a $100,000 grant under the US Commerce Department Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership.
  • DESIGNxRI -- $45,000

    This group of professionals will connect Rhode Island’s vast and talented design sector to form a strategic single voice and leverage its collective resources.
  • Digital City: Creating a Rhode Island Digital Media Industry -- $50,000

    Led by Gary Glassman of Providence Pictures and Renee Hobbs of the Harrington School of Communications and Media at the University of Rhode Island, this initiative aims to create a critical mass of Rhode Island-based companies and digital media literate workers to enable the state to be internationally recognized for digital media design and production. The project plans to formalize a digital media membership organization, a communal digital media design and production center and a digital media education center.
  • Downtown Office Marketing Campaign -- $25,000

    A marketing campaign led by The Providence Foundation and the Downtown Improvement District to introduce and position downtown Providence as an ideal urban/downtown location for start-up entrepreneurs and firms based outside Rhode Island.
  • Emerald Cities Providence -- $100,000

    Providence will undertake a deep retrofit of at least five municipal buildings, which will result in reduced environmental impact, cost savings for the city, and quality jobs for local residents.
  • Historic Tax Credit Advocacy -- $10,000

    A diverse coalition worked to restore a modified State Historic Tax Credit program. The state has received $54.5 million in applications for $34.5 million in available credits.
  • Lean Government Initiative -- $47,000

    The Department of Environmental Management is expanding and implementing systems developed under its lean government process to enhance customer service by simplifying regulatory and permitting processes for companies doing business or investing in Rhode Island.
  • MedMates -- $50,000

    This group brings together professionals from the state’s med tech sector to enhance connectivity and collaboration and leverage the concentrated diversity that exists in Rhode Island.
  • On-Ramps to Career Pathways -- $50,000

    To enable state agencies to use their resources more efficiently by braiding their funding streams, to make it easier for workers to identify career pathways, to offer career coaching and to implement a work readiness and work experience certification. A pilot program will operate in the state's one-stop career centers, through industry partners and community-based organizations. The initiative is a partnership between the state Department of Labor and Training, the Governor’s Workforce Board, the state Department of Education, the state Department of Human Services, Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.
  • Práctico Innovation--$50,000

    Led by Kipp Bradford, Walter Callender and Don Stanford, this project will launch a competition to encourage Rhode Islanders of Hispanic, Black and Asian backgrounds to create 21st-century products and services that address specific challenges of their communities.
  • Regulatory Reform -- $50,000

    To improve the business climate, Rhode Island’s Office of Regulatory Reform is assisting with the design and implementation of a statewide electronic permitting system to streamline building and fire permitting.
  • Rhode Island: It’s All In Our Backyard -- $150,000

    An in-state marketing campaign highlighting Rhode Island’s strengths, attributes and resources with the goal of inspiring positive public conversation and changing the way Rhode Islanders think about their state. The Foundation worked with Basics Group and Myranda Group on development of the campaign.
  • Rhode Island Manufacturing Renaissance Project -- $100,000

    An extensive survey of the top 1,000 Rhode Island manufacturing companies that will identify, assess and evaluate the potential of the state’s manufacturing sector.
  • Rhode Island Partnership Project -- $50,000

    This group will create a physical and virtual statewide “one stop shop” to ease the path of reentering post-secondary education, focusing on internships/apprenticeships, adult-learners, and loan mitigation.
  • Shipbuilding/Marine and Advanced Manufacturing Institute -- $50,000

    This new program at New England Institute of Technology will connect employers in the marine trades and manufacturing industries and unemployed individuals.
  • Urban Economic Development Planning -- $25,000

    Led by the Rhode Island Black Business Association, several groups are collaborating to develop and implement strategies inclusive of small and minority-owned businesses to accelerate urban economic development in Rhode Island.

Make It Happen RI 2.0

The Rhode Island Foundation and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation released a new economic action agenda developed in partnership with the private sector on January 23, 2014. The recommendations are based on the results of more than 20 focus groups that identified unique market opportunities at the intersections of industries. The recommendations will inform the RhodeMap RI comprehensive planning process, which will result in an economic development plan for the state by October 2014. In the meantime, we hope that progress on many of these actions will begin (or continue)!

On January 23, 2014, nearly 400 business and community leaders gathered for Make It Happen RI 2.0.
On January 23, 2014, nearly 400 business and community leaders gathered for Make It Happen RI 2.0.

Download executive summary 

Download full report 

Download graphic recordings

We were also proud to spotlight 23 initiatives underway:

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The Collaborative logo

Research Into Action

The Collaborative provides policymakers in Rhode Island with non-partisan academic research to support their decision making.

Learn more.





LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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