Business Growth

New business creation is booming in Providence. Photo: Unsplash

New business formation in Providence has boomed since 2014. That year, 299 new for-profit enterprises listed Providence as their principal place of business. Last year, 1,119 hopeful entrepreneurs registered new Providence businesses with the RI Secretary of State – and the numbers were even higher than that in 2021 and 2022.

Of all registered businesses in town, those in “real estate and rental and leasing” make up the largest industry group, closely followed by “not yet reported.” Since many of these may be paper corporations formed just for a single real estate project or parcel, we also looked at all non-real estate businesses with reported industries separately. That whittles the total number down by nearly half, but those remaining had even more dramatic growth in new business creation over the last decade. (Note that new business creation dropped by 6% from 2021 to 2022. 2023 numbers are not yet complete.)

10,855 – Total all Providence-based businesses registered with the Secretary of State as of October 2023.

47% – Percent of those businesses which have been in business for five years or more.

2,833 – Number of current Providence businesses engaged in “Real Estate and Rental and Leasing” (26%)

5,704 – Total of Providence businesses reporting a specific industry, excluding real estate. (52%)

946 – Providence’s second largest industry sector as of October 2023: “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.”

795 – New business registrations for Providence in 2022, excluding real estate and those not reporting an industry.

124 – New business registrations for Providence in 2014, excluding real estate and those not reporting an industry.

26% – Average annual increase in new non-real estate businesses established in Providence from 2013 to 2022.

660 – Retail businesses in Providence as of 2022.

237 – Retail businesses in Providence in 2013.


Source: Rhode Island Secretary of State: RI Business Data Hub as of Jan 8, 2024


Jonathan Howard is Co-founder of Cause & Effect, Inc., a consulting company that provides strategic planning facilitation, fund development planning and board strengthening to mission-driven organizations. He is a long- time resident of Providence. His three children all attended Providence Public Schools from kindergarten through high school.