Rhode Island Incentives and Workforce Development Guide

For a list of Rhode Island economic development agencies that can help with the site selection process, visit our Online Site Seekers’ Guide.



Industry Cluster Grants: Competitive grants to start, grow or improve industry sector partnerships, encouraging companies to work together to solve problems, exchange technology and share talent. Competitive startup and technical assistance grants range from $75,000 to $250,000, while competitive program grants start at $100,000 and cap at $500,000 for projects that enhance cluster growth and effectiveness.

Innovation Network Matching Grants: Matching funds to expand a small business development and assistance program at eligible organizations to help more companies start and grow their firms. Competitive applicants will be non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, universities and co-working space operators that are helping entrepreneurs and small businesses solve innovation challenges, have a track record of outcomes that demonstrate success in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses solve these problems, and have well-conceived plans for scaling or expanding successful programs or initiatives to reach more entrepreneurs and small businesses. Applicants must be able to provide matching support (cash, in-kind, or a combination of) of at least 50%. Programs for which grant assistance is sought must be well-defined and applying organizations must have a demonstrated track record of assisting small business development.

Innovation Vouchers: Are you a small business owner in Rhode Island? Do you have fewer than 500 employees within Rhode Island? Are you searching for R&D services to develop an innovative product or process that could help grow your business, create new markets and reach new clients? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you may be eligible to receive $5,000-$50,000 through the Rhode Island Innovation Voucher program. Rhode Island small businesses may redeem the voucher in partnership with a Rhode Island knowledge providing institution for activities including but not limited to:

  • Research and development support towards the commercialization of innovative new products, processes, and/or services;
  • Services and activities including access to research or scientific expertise;
  • Technological development or technological exploration;
  • Product, service, or market development; and
  • Improved business practices that implement strategies to grow business and create operational efficiencies.

Vouchers must be redeemed within 12 months of receipt. No more than two vouchers may be awarded within a 12-month period. Knowledge providers are limited to a 25% indirect cost charge. All small businesses must be located and conducting business in the state of Rhode Island, and at least fewer than 500 employees must be located in the state of Rhode Island. Manufacturers need not partner with a knowledge partner and can perform R&D in house.



Qualified Jobs Incentive: Provides businesses with a base tax credit for creating a minimum number of new jobs in Rhode Island or growing an in-state workforce by a specific percentage. The base tax credit is up to $2,500/new full-time job, with a bonus up to $7,500/job if certain criteria (targeted industry, hope community, etc.) are met.

  • Must create a minimum 20 jobs or grow in-state workforce by 10%; lowered to 10 jobs if certain criteria are met
  • Benefit may not exceed 10 years in term or income tax withholdings generated by the jobs created
  • Applications must be received by December 21, 2018
  • Usable, tradable and redeemable (90% of value)

Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit: Provides capital to qualified real estate projects that demonstrate a “financing gap.” The credit maximum is $15 million per project.

  • Usable, tradable and redeemable (90% of value)
  • Sales tax exemption on building materials may apply
  • Credits payable in five years following completion (certificate of occupancy)

Small Business Assistance Program: Provides businesses with fewer than 200 employees access to capital of up to $750,000 per business. The potential uses include: direct lending, collateral support, credit enhancements, co-investing and technical assistance.

Tax Increment Financing: Provides capital to eligible projects by rebating the new state tax revenue generated.

  • Projects must demonstrate need through a “financing gap”
  • Reimbursements may not exceed 30% of total project costs (exemption for public infrastructure/utilities) or 75% of incremental revenue generated

Tax Stabilization Incentive: Provides an incentive for Rhode Island municipalities to enter into tax stabilization agreements (TSA) of up to 10% of forgone tax revenue reimbursed to a local municipality for 12 years. Projects must be more than or equal to $10 million and create 50 jobs (50% for Hope Communities).

Wavemaker Fellowship: Used to attract and retain talent through funding student loan repayment costs for graduates employed at Rhode Island companies pursuing careers in technology, engineering, design and other key sectors in the state. Four-year reimbursement equal to individual’s student loan obligation not to exceed: $1,000 for an associate’s degree, $4,000 for a bachelor’s degree or $6,000 for a graduate/post-graduate degree. 70% of the fund is dedicated to Rhode Island residents or graduates of Rhode Island academic institutions



DLT Workforce Development Overview

Real Jobs RI: Real Jobs RI is a state and federally funded, competitive workforce and economic development initiative launched by Governor Raimondo in 2015. The platform ensures that employers have the talented employees they need to compete and grow, while it provides targeted education and skills training for workers. By putting employers at the center of job training, everyone wins. It’s a win for employers who will have a pipeline of trained workers. It’s a win for employees who will have a job once their training is complete. And it’s a win for Rhode Island as the state looks to attract and grow more companies.

As of July 1, 2019, the platform has developed workforce solutions for more than 850 local employers and served more than 6,200 participants, of which 3,132 were placed into new jobs.

Work Immersion Program: The Governor’s Workforce Board’s Work Immersion Program is designed to boost the employment prospects of new and returning workers while opening hiring channels and reducing hiring risk for employers. Paid work experiences such as those provided through the Work Immersion Program help avoid gaps in work history and provide the opportunity for either immediate employment or valuable experience that can keep a job seeker’s résumé “fresh.” The intent of this program is to help students and unemployed adults gain the work experience necessary to obtain gainful and full-time employment.

Incumbent Worker Training Grant: In today’s economy, your business depends upon skilled workers who can grow with the ever-changing landscape of your industry. Employers often need to train and re-train their current workers in order to remain competitive. When workers lack necessary skills, an employer’s ability to expand and grow may be compromised.

The Governor’s Workforce Board Incumbent Worker Training Grant Program provides grant funding for continuing education, training and upskilling of incumbent employees at existing Rhode Island employers.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring veterans, low-income job candidates, summer youth employees, and others facing significant barriers to employment. To incentivize workplace diversity and encourage access to good jobs, eligible employers receive tax credits ranging from $2,400 to $9,600.

Machine Tool / Plastics Process Apprenticeship Credit: Employers of registered full-time apprentices in the metal and plastic industries are eligible for an annual corporate tax credit of 50 percent of the actual wages paid to the qualifying apprentice, or $4,800, whichever is less. The number of apprenticeships for which tax credit is allowed must exceed the average number of apprenticeships begun during the five preceding income years. Registered apprenticeship programs include: machinist, toolmaker, model maker, gage maker, pattern maker, plastic process technician, tool and machine setter, die sinker, mold maker, tool and die maker, and machine tool repair.