Rhode Island political and business officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for the Wexford Innovation Complex, the first major development in the I-195 District, and expressed optimism that the project will prove to be an economic catalyst.
The first phase of the complex will span about 200,000 square feet on a lot next to the Garrahy courthouse in downtown Providence. Tenants will include an office of the consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson, Brown University’s School of Professional Studies, and a startup incubator known as the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Governor Gina Raimondo says the complex amounts to "a transformational project for Rhode Island .... and it is a symbol to the rest of the world that Rhode Island has momentum in this 21st century innovation economy."
The state will pump about $32 million in incentives into building the Wexford development. State officials say the complex will produce more than three times that amount in new revenue over 20 years, and they hope it will catalyze additional growth.
Under a blazing hot late September sun, political and business officials took turns praising the collaboration that enabled Wexford to move ahead in the I-195 District. Raimondo announced the project last December.
“It has been this collaboration that exists within the state and the city, amongst community leaders, among private industry leaders, among university and institutional leaders – that when they all work together, they can do really great things,” said Wexford President Jim Berens.
Construction of phase one will take about two years and is expected to require 1,000 workers. Hundreds of jobs are expected at the Wexford complex once it is completed.