(Updated 2:15 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – Citing Providence’s “hip vibe” and talent pool, Virgin Pulse, which acquired ShapeUp Inc. earlier this year, plans to expand its Rhode Island presence and create nearly 300 new jobs in the city over the next five years.
David Osborne, president and chief operating officer of Virgin Pulse, said the company considered a Boston office, but selected Providence because of the “access to talent and supportive business climate.”
The company, which provides software and technology solutions that increase employee productivity by improving employee health, well-being and engagement, already employs 65 in Providence.
“Our growth strategy is centered on hiring high-potential, early-in-career talent. With its hip vibe, low cost of living and high density of college students, Providence was a great fit from both a business and cultural perspective,” Osborne said in a statement.
Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced Virgin Pulse’s plan to bring 300 jobs to the state at a press conference Thursday along with Virgin Pulse executives.
“When Virgin Pulse bought ShapeUp, the worst kept secret among business leaders was that they were looking to move north to Boston. Because of the great, talented people who live here and because of the economic tools we’ve created with help from the General Assembly, instead of losing 65 good paying jobs to Boston, we’re going to create nearly 300,” Raimondo said in a statement. “I am thrilled that Dave, Derek and the Virgin Pulse executive team took a fresh look at Rhode Island. I look forward to bringing a box of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to their offices to meet their new employees. We will continue to make the necessary investments in our people so that Rhode Islanders have the skills they need to compete for the jobs Virgin Pulse, GE Digital, CIC, Wexford and others are creating right here in Rhode Island.”
Virgin Pulse will begin hiring nearly 300 additional staff over the next three to six months and is already seeking applications for open positions. It is working with TechHire Rhode Island, a statewide initiative for delivering in-demand tech talent for Rhode Island employers, to fill positions.
“Not only does it make good business sense for us, growing our presence in Providence allows our employees to take advantage of the wide range of healthy lifestyle experiences that the city offers,” Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, said. “As a company that cares about the health and well-being of its employees, it was clear that this walkable city has an active living culture that is well aligned with our corporate mission and values.”
Virgin Pulse has applied for $2.5 million in Qualified Jobs Tax Credits and $3.2 million in Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits. The Qualified Tax Credit would not take effect until the jobs are created and those hired are paying state income tax. The Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits would support expanding Virgin Pulse’s current 29,000-square-foot space to a nearly 90,000-square-foot office in downtown Providence. The request for incentives will be discussed at the R.I. Commerce Corp. meeting on Dec. 19.
David Ortiz, a spokesman for Raimondo, said the company has not said where it plans to move in Providence. It currently is in the Jewelry District at 111 Chestnut St.
U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin said this announcement is important because it preserves existing jobs, adds hundreds more and promotes economic development.
“This is a signal to the rest of the country that Rhode Island is making strides to roll out the welcome mat for new and growing businesses,” Langevin said.
Dr. Rajiv Kumar, chief medical officer at Virgin Pulse, said prior to the acquisition by Virgin Pulse, ShapeUp “benefitted immensely from strong partnerships with the Rhode Island state government, local institutions and community leaders.”
“I’m thrilled that Virgin Pulse saw the potential that exists here and decided not only to stay, but to grow our footprint in this supportive and vibrant community,” Kumar said.
A third-party analysis projects that the expansion will generate $10.5 million in additional revenue to the state and nearly $60 million of additional gross domestic product, once Virgin Pulse completes its full hiring.
Virgin Pulse is the latest company that has announced plans to move to Rhode Island. GE Digital, which opened a temporary office on Dorrance Street this year, will move into a new spot at 75 Fountain St. next year.
On Dec. 13, the morning after the I-195 Commission voted on an $18.5 million incentive package, the governor announced that Wexford/CV Properties has secured key tenants – including Cambridge Innovation Center – for its anchor property in the I-195 Innovation and Design District.