Workers’ perceptions of a city’s quality of life and quality of place are critical to their decisions about where to work and for whom. Recent graduates and young professionals in particular often select where they want to live and then secure employment.
In an ever-tightening labor market, many CEOs find that running their company from a creative and socially conscious location provides a major competitive advantage in attracting and retaining tomorrow’s skilled, mobile workforce. Millennials want to live and work someplace that offers the whole package. Besides economic opportunity, they desire a sophisticated transportation infrastructure, proximity to other business hubs, and easy access to shops, restaurants, art and music. A Nielsen study found that most millennials want to live in mixed-use communities in urban centers: “Millennials prefer cities to suburbs, subways to driveways,” it concluded.
Livable and affordable, Providence is one such location. More than a quarter of Rhode Island’s population is comprised of millennials ages 15 to 34, and almost 40 percent of these residents call the state’s capital home. Not only is Providence a quick train ride away from Boston and New York, but it’s home to 88,000 college students from top institutions like Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island School of Design. The city’s knowledge economy is further fueled by companies such as Hasbro and Fidelity, which have major operations in Providence, and by Virgin Pulse, Johnson and Johnson, and GE Digital, which have recently opened operations in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island also has managed to squeeze over 400 miles of scenic coastline into its small footprint, inviting residents to enjoy sailing, beaches and resorts. And Providence, which is famed for its food scene, has been called “America’s coolest city” by GQ.
Today, Rhode Island’s location presents a more compelling proposition than it ever has because of the steps that its governor, Gina Raimondo, has taken in recent years to make the Ocean State the best place in New England to start, grow or locate a business. This includes rolling out a suite of economic development incentives and initiatives, investing in innovation and workforce training, and creating opportunities for R&D and partnership within industries, between industry sectors, and between academia and commerce. Some of the state’s incentives have been engineered to retain talent. For example, the Wavemaker Fellowship defrays student loan payments for qualifying graduates pursuing a career or starting a business in Rhode Island, while others—like the Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credit—reward employers for creating new jobs in the state.
Most CEOs agree that human capital is their most valuable asset. In Providence, as in other top markets for millennials, it’s as simple as this: Great companies thrive because of great people, and great people want to live in great places.
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