Rhode Island business news: May 2022

The REOI is designed to gauge initial industry interest in the development opportunity, as well as to seek industry perspective and feedback. From there, the responses will help RIPTA plan and execute the project.

“The Dorrance Street Transit Center is one more important part of our commitment to restore and revitalize Downtown Providence while we create the best possible transit experience for riders,” Governor Dan McKee said. “This initiative is part of our larger vision for Providence, and our state, that includes our efforts to breathe new life into the Superman Building. Rhode Island has the momentum – we’re committed to keeping it going.”

May 11, 2022

R.I. approves $21m for ‘Superman’ building redevelopment plan

Rhode Island Commerce Corporation approved Wednesday $21 million in state incentives for the redevelopment of the Industrial Trust Tower into apartments and commercial space on the ground floors.

The vote from the Commerce’s full board of directors comes just a month after High Rock Development, the building’s owner, announced it planned to convert the tower into 285 residential units, 20 percent of which will be reserved for affordable housing.

The building, nicknamed “Superman” for its similarities to the fictional Daily Planet building in the Superman television shows and comic books, has been vacant since Bank of America moved out in 2013. It’s also the tallest building in the state.

The board recommended to approve $15 million in tax credits through the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit Program and $5.7 million from a financial incentive program called the First Wave Closing Fund to be used for the building’s redevelopment plans. It’s part of a $41 million financial aid package from the city and state.

May 10, 2022

Middletown, R.I.-based KVH reported $4.7m loss in Q1

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AP) — KVH Industries Inc. (KVHI) on Tuesday reported a loss of $4.7 million in its first quarter.

The Middletown, Rhode Island-based company said it had a loss of 25 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs and stock option expense, came to 5 cents per share.

The maker of mobile communication and navigation equipment posted revenue of $41.1 million in the period.

SEG awards $80k in microgrants to social impact brands in Rhode Island

The Social Enterprise Greenhouse awarded $80,000 to 16 Rhode Island small businesses and nonprofits on Monday through its recently launched Microgrant Fund. Each of the awardees received up to $5,000.

The microgrant fund was established with an initial gift from donors Mary Elleen and Chris Patton earlier this year.

SEG plans on awarding another round of grants later this year, which it will accept applications for through mid-September. The businesses that received funds stretch across various industries and include “paid peer mental health advocacy, training for members of the nation’s first co-op for neurodivergent adults, bringing the benefits of sea kelp to soil in farms and community gardens, and construction costs for a new space that offers equitable healthcare for Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ community members.”

The recipients include:

  • 3B Thrift Shop Store in Central Falls
  • Break Through Waves in Providence
  • Conexion Latina Newport in Newport
  • Ends+Stems in Rumford
  • Gather Together United as 1 in Providence
  • Giving Beyond the Box in Wakefield
  • Hope Scholars Initiative in Providence
  • Legacy Home Improvement in Woonsocket
  • LUNA Community Care in Pawtucket
  • Omena in Providence
  • Rhody Wild Sea Gardens in Narragansett
  • Taylor Health Enterprises/ Lotus Noire Health in East Providence
  • Thrive Outside in Bristol
  • Urban Perinatal Education Center in Providence
  • R.I. Women in the Trades in Providence
  • Roots2Empower in Providence

May 9, 2022

R.I. Commerce committee recommends using $20.7m for Superman building in state funds

A subcommittee within Rhode Island Commerce Corporation voted Monday to recommend using nearly $21 million in state funds for the long-vacant Industrial Trust Co. building in downtown Providence.

The subcommittee recommended to approve $15 million in tax credits through the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit Program and $5.7 million from a financial incentive program called the First Wave Closing Fund to be used for the building’s redevelopment plans.

The building, nicknamed “Superman“ for its similarities to the fictional Daily Planet building in the Superman television shows and comic books, has been vacant since Bank of America moved out in 2013. It’s also the tallest building in the state. High Rock Development, the building’s owner, plans to convert the tower into 285 residential units, 20 percent of which will be reserved for affordable housing, which was announced last month. Approximately 8,000 square feet will be used for commercial office space and another 26,000 square feet, where the bank used to be, will be used for “retail, community, and event space.”

The project will cost an estimated $220 million, and will create about 1,500 construction jobs, Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor told the Globe.

Commerce Corporation’s full board will vote on final approval of the financing requests at a future meeting that has not yet been scheduled.

May 6, 2022

RIC becomes first college in state to earn Hispanic Serving Institution status

Rhode Island College became the first institution of higher education in the state to earn federal Hispanic Serving Institution status. This HSI status is defined by the Higher Education Act and designated by the U.S. Department of Education to acknowledge Title V-eligible colleges and universities where at least 25 percent of total undergraduate full-time equivalent student enrollment identifies as Hispanic or Latinx. This eligibility must be met annually.

As of 2021, there were 559 HSIs across 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that enrolled two-third of all Hispanic/Latinx undergraduates in the US.

“As a Latina born and raised in Rhode Island, I have seen and lived these demographic changes over the years,” said Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Anna Cano-Morales. “Hispanic Serving Institution designation is a recognition of that growing diversity, as well as our commitment to ensuring that we also create actionable and institution-wide changes leading to equity and inclusion.”

This designation makes the college eligible to apply for additional federal funding to expand educational opportunities for and improve the academic attainment of Hispanic and Latinx students.

“This is in keeping with our legacy of being the state’s first public institution of higher education, as well as our ongoing mission to put a four-year degree within reach for more Rhode Islanders,” said RIC President Frank D. Sánchez, the first Hispanic-American president of a college or university in the state.

May 4, 2022

R.I. receives $27m to help repair, improve public housing

U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced Wednesday that 24 Rhode Island cities and towns will receive nearly $27 million in federal funding through the Public Housing Capital Fund.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this Public Housing Capital Fund money will help local communities “preserve, develop, finance, and modernize public housing.” Funds are supposed to be directed to local housing authorities in order to “modernize” public housing and stay up-to-date on any ongoing maintenance needs.

“Local agencies can use the funding for a broad array of improvements that may include redesigning, reconstructing, and reconfiguring public housing sites and buildings; addressing safety code compliance needs; replacing obsolete utility systems and dwelling equipment; and investing in resident programs that help improve economic empowerment,” an announcement from Reed’s office said.

Rhode Island has approximately 9,000 public housing units.

Public housing agencies in the following cities and towns will receive funding:

  • Bristol: $457,335
  • Burrillville: $234,004
  • Central Falls: $905,874
  • Coventry: $445,541
  • Cranston: $1,526,553
  • Cumberland: $352,793
  • East Greenwich: $87,870
  • East Providence: $1,151,082
  • Jamestown: $69,349
  • Johnston: $359,404
  • Lincoln: $685,823
  • Providence: $8,316,317
  • Pawtucket: $2,410,410
  • Narragansett: $29,645
  • Newport: $2,451,978
  • North Providence: $294,980
  • Smithfield: $143,603
  • South Kingstown: $274,384
  • Tiverton: $111,844.00
  • Warren: $324,400
  • Warwick: $1,261,355.00
  • Westerly: $319,392
  • West Warwick: $614,986
  • Woonsocket: $4,168,242

After another strong quarter, CVS raises outlook for 2022

COVID-19 vaccines and tests for the virus continue to boost CVS Health and the health care giant raised its annual forecast after yet another strong quarter.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based drugstore chain and pharmacy benefit manager also processed more prescriptions and added customers to its health insurance business in a better-than-expected performance.

The company said Wednesday that it administered more than 8 million COVID-19 vaccines in the first quarter. That represented a big drop from the over 20 million that it administered in the last quarter of 2021, when customers sought boosters and many children began getting shots.

CVS Health said it also administered more than six million tests in the first quarter, and its drugstores got a boost from customers buying additional test kits to take home as the omicron surge of the virus peaked at the start of the quarter.

The vaccines and tests are bringing more customers into CVS Health drugstores, but that advantage may be starting to wane, said Neil Saunders, who follows the company as managing director of GlobalData.

“It is reasonable to question how long it will continue to deliver,” Saunders said in an email.

CVS operates one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains with nearly 10,000 retail locations. It also runs prescription drug plans for big clients like insurers and employers through a large pharmacy benefit management business. It also provides health insurance for more than 24 million people through its Aetna arm.

That health insurance business has added 674,000 customers since the end of last year. But the segment saw its adjusted operating income drop slightly in the first quarter, partly because medical costs are returning to normal levels.

Claims processed in the company’s biggest business, its pharmacy benefits management segment, also climbed nearly 6 percent compared to last year’s quarter, which had a weaker cough, cold and flu season.

Quarterly net income climbed 4 percent to $2.31 billion. But operating income slipped due to a $484 million settlement the company reached with the state of Florida to settle opioid-related litigation. Overall, the company posted adjusted earnings of $2.22 per share, beating analyst projections for $2.17. Revenue was $76.8 billion, also topping Wall Street’s expectations for $75.54 billion.

CVS Health said it now expects per-share earnings of between $8.20 and $8.40 this year.

April 27, 2022

Four sites to participate in statewide $40m Rhode Island Ready program

Four Rhode Island industrial sites were approved for enrollment in the Rhode Island Ready program by the Quonset Development Corporation’s board of directors. The program is a statewide industrial site readiness initiative that’s backed by $40 million, which was approved by voters.

Rhode Island Ready provides pre-permitted, pre-engineered sites to new or expanding businesses at Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, which are “shovel ready” within 90 days of signing a lease.

The sites are located in Johnston, Cranston, West Warwick, and at Quonset. The Rhode Island Ready program, based on Quonset’s successful “Site Readiness” program, will create an inventory of pre-permitted properties ready for industrial development and job creation throughout the state. These four enrolled sites will have access to technical assistance with engineering, permitting, and other pre-development approvals.

“It is exciting to see approval for the first four sites in this program,” said Governor Dan McKee. “The RI Ready initiative is building momentum, and in the very near future, we will see new or expanded businesses at those sites.”

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, who chairs the QDC board, said this is the “first step in preparing up to 45 acres of industrial land for private development.”

Over the last 10 years, the program has led to the creation of more than 3,500 jobs and $664 million in private investment across 14 developed sites and 36 companies.

Crossroads R.I. taps Textron executive as new board chair

Julie Duffy, an executive at Providence-based Textron Inc., was appointed chair of the Crossroads Rhode Island’s board of trustees Tuesday night during the organization’s annual meeting.

Duffy is an executive vice president at the $11.7 billion industrial conglomerate, leading the company’s global human resources function and oversees the company’s communications. Before stepping into her current role in 2017, she led the company’s in-house litigation team. She was also a commissioner for the Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission from 2015 through 2021.

She first joined Crossroads’ board in 2015. Duffy succeeds U.S. District Chief Judge Jack McConnell, who led the board for more than a decade. He told the Globe this week that he plans on staying on as a member.

“Crossroads is unique in many ways, executing its mission and measuring impact by outcomes rather than output,” said Duffy in a statement Wednesday. “Crossroads’ board and leadership team will remain focused on creating better outcomes for every individual and every family we serve.”

Duffy received her her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and went to law school at Boston University.

April 20, 2022

Sen. Whitehouse secures $450k to launch new electronic records to improve patient care

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, announced Thursday that he secured approximately $450,000 to help the Rhode Island Quality Institute launch a new program aimed at improving patient care. The program will expand the availability of data from electronic health records in more health care settings.

The. Congressionally Directed Spending request was included in the bill that President Biden signed into law last month.

“Everyone wins when electronic health records are easily accessible to different providers. Patients get better, more efficient care and there is less waste in the system,” said Whitehouse, who founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute while he was serving as the state’s attorney general. “The Rhode Island Quality Institute has made a real difference in health care over the past two decades, and I’m pleased to deliver federal funds so that its services can reach more patients.”

The Rhode Island Quality Institute operates CurrentCare, the state’s health information exchange. The exchange is designed to support access to medical data for better care coordination, reduce medical errors and waste, advance quality measurement, and engage patients and families in care decisions.

More Rhode Island business news.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.