Program Calls for Applications from Design-Driven Small Businesses in the City of Providence
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced the re-launch of the Design Catalyst program, which will provide qualifying Providence design businesses with $90,000 in grant funding capital in amounts up to $15,000, business mentorship and professional development training to catalyze growth in their businesses. The program is run by DESIGNxRI, an economic development nonprofit for the RI design sector, based in Providence.
“Providence is known as the Creative Capital due to our commitment to our world-class design community,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “The Design Catalyst program helps creative entrepreneurs succeed by giving them the tools to market their ideas and reach their potential. I encourage all design-driven small businesses to apply today.”
Through DESIGNxRI’s partnership with both the City of Providence and Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (Real Jobs RI), the Providence Design Catalyst program supports Providence-based design businesses in reaching their business growth goals. Through a competitive, merit-based grant application process, applicants are asked to submit qualifications and experience, business goal(s), expected milestones, success projections and a proposal about how their business growth will benefit the Providence design ecosystem. Applications will be reviewed by the Design Catalyst steering committee, led by DESIGNxRI and will be accepted from November 20th– December 8th, 2017 on DESIGNxRI’s website.
“Rhode Island design employers like our partners at Taylor Box Company, Orange Square and Ximedica have long invested in design, knowing it’s a necessity that’s central to starting, differentiating, and growing a business,” said DLT Director Scott Jensen. “Governor Raimondo and I are excited to work alongside Mayor Elorza and DESIGNxRI to help the promising entrepreneurs selected by the Providence Design Catalyst program to leverage the resources of Real Jobs RI. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas of today become the successful job-creating businesses of tomorrow.”
Design is one of the fastest-growing sectors locally and nationally. Providence is already a hotbed of design activity – it is home to the third most industrial designers per capita in the U.S. and one of the world’s most recognized and premier design schools, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
“The Providence Design Catalyst program invests in the burgeoning and growing entrepreneurial design businesses in the City. We are incredibly excited to offer this program again, thanks to our funding partners,” said Lisa Carnevale, Executive Director of DESIGNxRI. “With funding, business mentorship, and skills training, the program has had incredible success in catalyzing business advancement and ultimately, adding jobs, expanding product lines, and growing Providence’s design capital.”
While the City’s design talent continues to thrive and grow, there remains a great need to cultivate and sustain existing creative entities. Support from the Providence Design Catalyst may lead to positive business development, jobs and business growth, pathways for recent graduates to remain in Providence, and establishes a foundational strategy for next generation business development.
“For many creative entrepreneurs, it can be daunting to find the capital and business support to grow,” said Miles Endo of Studio Endo, a past recipient of a Design Catalyst grant. “The Design Catalyst Program provided me the opportunity to create a proposal that aligned with my own creative goals, which was enabled by capital and expertise from a business mentor, fellow entrepreneurs and a network of experts that accelerated my business growth. Without DESIGNxRI and their funding partners, this would not have been possible,” said Endo.
The 2015-2016 Providence Design Catalyst pilot accepted 17 businesses into the program. The cohort spent the first four months of 2016 in an intensive experience to catalyze business growth: meeting at least once a month for trainings, engaging in sessions with team members and peers, and working to achieve their business growth milestones in this time period. Meeting these milestones throughout is a requirement to continue the program.
Program highlights, compiled from participants’ past final reports include:
- $500,000 invested into 17 design businesses
- 17 business mentors engaged from the RI business community
- 55 percent of participant businesses developed a new product line and/or extended their brand
- 48 percent of participant businesses extended an existing product line and/or added new production capacity with new equipment
- 6 of the 17 added staff capacity with interns, freelancers, or full-time employment
- 25 percent of participant businesses received additional funding and/or mentoring from outside sources.
The Providence Design Catalyst, led by DESIGNxRI, is funded by both the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Training (Real Jobs RI).
About DESIGNxRI: DESIGNxRI is a non-profit organization with a mission to create a vibrant and opportunity-driven environment for RI designers, design businesses and the design sector to thrive. Through education, economic development and community development, we coalesce designers, elevate awareness of the RI design sector, spotlight the diverse talent base located in the state, and invest in strengthening and growing RI design-driven businesses. Learn more at www.designxri.com.
About STUDIO ENDO: STUDIO ENDO is a lighting and furniture maker committed to creating one-of-a-kind products that transform spaces. Inspired by bold yet refined elements, every piece tells a story reflects the aesthetic principles of traditional and modern Japanese culture.
About Elmwood Studios: Elmwood Studios builds a space and shared set of resources out of a desire to multiply the capacities we previously had as individuals. As young designers building our businesses, sharing tools, resources, and perspectives lets us do more together than we could apart.