Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

WaterFire Gloria Gemma

Building the Future Economy: Rhode Island Is for Innovators
In Partnership with Worth Magazine

Friday, May 13
Providence, Rhode Island

The pandemic cut a swift and ferocious path through the world economy, upending paradigms along its way. Join us for an interactive economic development and thought leadership conference that will showcase strategies for fostering inclusive growth, downtown development and global investment. Conversation topics will include life science innovation, Rhode Island’s future as an aerotropolis, carbon neutrality programs, wind energy, and strategies Rhode Island has deployed to lead the Blue Economy sector in the United States. Attendees will interact with government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and investors from cities nationwide, all committed to the challenge of accelerating inclusive growth. Discover what top minds in business and government think the future holds, using Rhode Island’s strategy as a backdrop for discussion.


Welcome Reception at Aloft Hotel Providence
with Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor
4:30–5:30 p.m.

Enjoy welcome music by Rhode Island-based Vocalist and Steel Drummer Becky Bass as you cross the courtyard to the main program.

Program at the Wexford Innovation Center
5:30–9 p.m.

Providence’s newest hotel, the Aloft Providence is located in the Jewelry District, once the epicenter of costume jewelry in the United States, spawning innovations in manufacturing and design. Today, the District is still a hotbed for bold thinkers, aided by its proximity to storied academic institutions such as the Alpert Medical School at Brown University and leading economic catalysts like the Wexford Innovation Center. Located across a small courtyard from the Aloft, the Center is a collaboration among startup incubator Cambridge Innovation Center, Brown University and Johnson & Johnson.


Welcome to Rhode Island by Governor Dan McKee
Sworn in at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2021, Governor Dan McKee has led Rhode Island’s economic rebound, ranked #1 in the Northeast according to the CNN/Moody's "Back to Normal Index," a ranking system that tracks America's recovery. 

Panel Discussion – Growth Sectors, Blue Economy, and Life Science Industries: Strategy and the Power of Innovation
By drawing on its academic, corporate and environmental strengths, Rhode Island is honing its economic development strategies and focusing more of its growth efforts in the exploding sectors of life science and a highly integrated maritime economy that encompasses manufacturing and research, which reinforces the competitive advantages of the Ocean State.

Drew Carey
Co-Founder of INSPIRE Environmental

Damon Cox
Head of Next Practice and Inclusive Growth for Mass Challenge

Aidan Petrie
Founding Partner of NEMIC and Founding Partner of Ximedica

Peter A. Rumsey
Chief Business Development Officer
Acting RI Blue Economy Tech Cluster Catalyst
URI Ventures

A Conversation with United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Sheldon Whitehouse has earned a reputation in the U.S. Senate as a fierce advocate for progressive values and as a thoughtful legislator capable of reaching across the aisle to achieve bipartisan solutions. Senator Whitehouse will lead an intimate discussion about carbon neutrality programs in Providence and Rhode Island’s goal of all renewable energy by 2030.

Building Providence – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza
Mayor Jorge Elorza has been a strong advocate for economic development during his time in office. Mayor Elorza will discuss what he has done to facilitate more growth in every neighborhood of Providence than the city has experienced in a generation.

Street Smart Innovation: A Community Case Study – Lanre Ajakaiye
Providence-born entrepreneur Lanre Ajakaiye is investing in his hometown by developing 25 Bough Street, a community-anchored facility providing spaces for youth education and empowerment, entrepreneurship, and celebration of life events.

A Conversation with David Neeleman, CEO of Breeze Airways
With a fresh, egalitarian take on flying, Breeze Airways is changing how and where Americans take to the air, with affordable fares and a reach to underserved locations. Mr. Neeleman will take us on his private journey as the legendary aviation industry entrepreneur who cofounded five airlines, including JetBlue and Breeze Airways. He will share his passion for change and the economic impact of providing nonstop flights to underserved locations.

Post-Event Reception & WaterFire Preview

Aloft Hotel
9 p.m.

Enjoy dessert, coffee and cocktails on the Aloft Terrace, featuring recording artist Big Luxe, who combines hip-hop, soul and classical violin for a modern yet timeless sound. Wander down the street to get an exclusive sneak peak of WaterFire, Providence’s signature arts event. Bonfires will illuminate the heart of the Providence River, exclusively for this event, in advance of its spectacular summer season.

RSVP by Friday, May 6 to

Worth, Green Airport, GoProvidence, ITG, Partnership for Rhode Island, Providence, RI and RI Commerce logos