Santander Bank and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Share New Economic Perspectives of Rhode Island Business and Community


Santander Bank, N.A. (“Santander Bank,” “Santander” or “the Bank”) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) today hosted their 20th Economic Outlook Breakfast for Rhode Island’s business community. Approximately 300 people gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, Rhode Island for the event, which gives business, education, healthcare, government and community leaders a forum to discuss the local economy and the changing dynamics of Rhode Island.

“For two decades, leaders from a variety of industries have come together to explore the economic challenges that Rhode Island faces, as well as the opportunities for development. The city of Providence and surrounding area has key benefits that make it attractive for both businesses and the talent they need to be successful. At Santander, we recognize the important role financial institutions play in supporting these communities and are committed to partnering with the state’s leaders to drive economic growth in collaboration with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.”

Michael Lee
Head of Commercial Real Estate & Vehicle Finance, Santander Bank

Lee, along with Laurie White, President, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, provided welcome remarks, followed by introductions from Tim Wennes, Santander US CEO, Governor Dan McKee and Mayor of Providence Brett Smiley. Attendees then responded to a series of economic and business climate-related questions during a real-time survey.

Economic Outlook

  • Nearly 50% of business and civic leaders surveyed believe the US economy will be in somewhat worse shape over the next 12 months, while 23% believe it will be about the same.
  • Thinking only about the Rhode Island economy over the same time period, 48% of leaders believe it will be in somewhat worse shape, compared to 30% who said it will be about the same.

Business Perspective

  • Thinking about their business today versus a year ago, almost 40% said it is in better shape, while 33% said somewhat worse shape and 26% believe it is the same.
  • When asked about their business a year from today, 38% said they expect it to be about the same, 32% said it will be in somewhat better shape and 21% said it will be in somewhat worse shape with revenue and sales growth (25%), talent shortage (20%) and cost of borrowing/interest rates (19%) being the top challenges they will face over the next 12 months.
  • Nearly 50% of leaders said that having an ESG framework in place over the next 12-24 months will be important, with 22% of those citing it will be very important.

Workforce Planning and Development

  • When asked about their current workforce, leaders cited technology skills (23%) and training (20%) as being the top two areas that need development.
  • Nearly 45% said that they plan a slight or significant increase in their workforce over the next year due to current staffing levels not meeting demand (52%), skills gap (38%) and projected sales growth (29%).

Current Events and Economic Environment

  • Almost 50% of business leaders said their capital expenditure spending plans in 2023 will not change, with 27% of business leaders planning for a slight increase.
  • Despite recent bank failures and resulting market volatility, leaders are confident (79%) in the future performance of their financial partners as it relates to liquidity and credit.

The economic outlook aligns with new research from Santander US that revealed 86% of middle-income Americans believe financial prosperity remains a worthwhile goal, with 79% optimistic that they will achieve it within the next decade, despite current headwinds.

In addition to the perspectives from state leaders, Dr. Sean Edmund Rogers, Incoming Dean, University of Rhode Island College of Business, Michele Streton, President and CEO of Providence Mutual, Stephen Stanley, Chief US Economist, Santander US Capital Markets and Meghan Hughes, Ph.D., President, Community College of Rhode Island shared insights around the current economic environment and its local and regional impact.

“This event with Santander has become a staple annual gathering of Rhode Island’s business community, and it’s a pleasure to be able to join in their commitment to helping people and businesses prosper. The breakfast is a unique opportunity to discuss and interpret current economic data with experts and to gauge the real-time sentiment and outlook of our local business and civic leaders.”

Laurie White
president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

DISCLAIMER: The survey results expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Santander Bank, N.A. and are not intended to represent Santander Bank, N.A.’s position on any of the issues referenced therein.


Media Contacts

Santander US Media Contact

Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Media Contact

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