Why start a business in Rhode Island? 4

Last week I did a short interview on WPRO’s Morning News with Tara Granahan & Andrew Gobeil.  I was invited on after a report on CNBC came out listing Rhode Island as the worst state for business.  The morning show was looking for someone to voice the real-world view of starting a business here.

In preparing for the interview, I was forced to ponder the question I thought most likely to be asked: Why am I trying to start a business in the state that makes it the most difficult to succeed?  After all, Massachusetts ranks right in the middle of the states at #28 and is just as close to my house as my chosen brewery location.

The short answer is that I didn’t think to check such rankings before starting the brewery!  It’s more than that, though.  Even knowing what I do now, I’d have stayed within our borders.

The real reason, I realized, is that the CNBC list ranks states on factors related to government and economics.  A state, though, is much, much more than that.  Rhode Island is the sum of its people, places and culture.  In my years here I have met a lot of the people.  I met my wife here and my best friends here.  For years I played kickball with a league full of hundreds of very cool and interesting people. More recently I’ve played in a bocce league and enjoyed a new set of fun people there. My Wednesday running club is full of friends and acquaintances that I look forward to spending time with on a weekly basis.  Outside of my social scenes, I see waitstaff, mill-mates and others that always greet me with a smile.  It’s fair to say that there are a lot of great people.

There is never a shortage of fun things to do here, either.  On the rare occasion that I do find myself bored, there is always the option of going to see an entertaining roller derby event, a play ranging from major touring companies to local community theater, baseball games, hockey games, arts festivals, waterfire, and the list goes on and on.  My dilemma is never finding something to do or somewhere to eat, but which of the many options to choose from.

All of this is the Rhode Island I chose.  I chose it as my home, and that inherently led to it being the home for my business.  When I look forward, I don’t look at becoming part of the Rhode Island business scene, but of becoming part of the Rhode Island cultural and social scene.  Of course you can’t have one without the other, but one is the motivation and the other is simply the canvas on which this will be created.

4 thoughts on “Why start a business in Rhode Island?

  • M

    So, if you actually look at that list – you’ll see that RI ranks high in things that would matter to a really small business like yours — but low in categories that would matter to a slightly larger business.

    “Cost of Business” – MA ranks 49th while RI ranks 46. That’s an advantage to a company that doesn’t have more than 10 employees. RI ranks horribly on economy (no duh) and infrastructure/public transportation (who cares for a 3 man operation).

    MA ranks better for workforce (important if you have more than a few employees), technology, and access to capitol. Those categories don’t mean much to you, most likely.

    Thus, you’re probably in a good place — but most other business would probably do better to start just over the border in the more business friendly MA.

  • Kathy Black


    Well said. I think biz these days is more about the values and intangibles that you described than where to earn the most money. Many of us are happy — grateful!– to be doing what we love with people we enjoy rather than pushing thru each day to earn a big paycheck.

    And to do it with RI friends and colleagues is even better!

  • chuck

    Here, Here. I have a son in Boston who tells me get out of RI its sinking, well I love RI and if it goes down Im taking a million people with me.
    Long Live Rhode Island.

  • Brandon

    Hey there! I’ve gotta say I’m incredibly excited about all the up and coming beer activity in the state. I work for a local store with an extensive craft beer selection, and was curious about the possibility of a tour/tasting. Thank you!

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