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Rhode Island Company of the Year 2013

Saturday, January 04, 2014

 

Twin River could have been 38 Studios, Alpha-Beta Technology or any other failed RI-backed company. But, Twin River has transformed itself after going to business hell and back. 

In 2009, the former Lincoln Downs declared bankruptcy and thousands of jobs and millions in state revenue were threatened.

By November of 2010, under the new ownership lead by John Taylor, the Lincoln gaming facility started the rebuilding process during a period in which many of the region’s casinos faced tremendous financial problems driven by staggering debt.  

The new leadership knew it needed to build trust and make the property more competitive. Just as Massachusetts began moving forward with a process for approving three casinos to be developed across different regions of the Commonwealth, Twin River was able to gain approval for expansion to table games.

Steering away from the rocks -- and seizing market opportunities

Now, three plus years later, Twin River has expanded, added thousands of new jobs and seems far ahead of others in the gaming industry in reading and reacting to the tea leaves.

In mid-December, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, the parent company of Lincoln's Twin River Casino,  announced they would acquire Biloxi, Mississippi's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The purchase price?  A cool $250,000,000.

Twin River’s Taylor said in December, as part of the announcement of the expansion to the south, "We’re proud of the revenue we generate for the State and for the good paying jobs we provide, largely to Rhode Islanders. We now have the opportunity to broaden our focus to other markets which offer the opportunity for growth, and we see Mississippi in general and this property in particular as having exceptional value.”

Twin River is Smarter

While gaming and lottery revenue is the third largest source of revenue for the state of Rhode Island, Twin River has worked to expand and diversify to ensure its own long-term viability when Massachusetts’ casinos come online.

Rhode Island could take a lesson from Twin River in fiscal preparation. With more than 4,500 slots machines and more than 75 table games, the once sleepy dog track is turning into a bit of a destination location and the company is strategically planning for the future. With 51% of the patrons visiting Twin River coming from Massachusetts, the effort to improve the experience and prepare for Massachusetts-based competition has been stellar and has demonstrated superior planning.

While some may critique the selection of a gaming facility for company of the year, the reality is that Twin River is a critical employer and revenue generator, contributing to the fabric of the state.

In total, the Lottery coupled with Twin River and the much smaller Newport Grand will contribute nearly $400 million in revenue to the state of Rhode Island for 2013. 

Smart Growth

Part of Twin River’s success has been Taylor and his team, who have continued to invest in infrastructure and people -- and the growth and outcome has been that they are significantly outperforming their peers, and preparing and planning for the future. 

 

Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Business Stories in RI in 2013

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13 Best Biz Cities in RI

GoLocal's examination of the Best Cities and Towns to do business in RI explored new ground for companies looking to relocate or expand.

Our researchers culled municipally-distinct data on tax rates, workforce availability, cost of living index, economic indicators for short term and long-term job growth, even average driving time to TF Green Airport, to quantify a blend of factors that make for a pro-business environment. Because every city and state in RI complies by statewide measures, those metrics weren't included in GoLocal's research.

READ THE STUDY

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12 Superman

Our coverage of the Superman building's threatened future started back in 2011, when a news story by GoLocal's News Team first unveiled the threat that Bank of America would leave the building and leave the city with the largest embarrassment.

In the story, The Superman Building: Downtown’s Ticking Time Bomb - former Mayor and developer Joe Paolino predicted the demise of the iconic building.

The failure to act by the Taveras Administration created the tallest embarrasment in America - one that has been reported by most every news organization in America.

GoLocal covered the demise of the building throughout the year.

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11 JetBlue Factor

JetBlue's arrival to Rhode Island was first announced by GoLocal is the summer of 2012, but no one quite knew the impact of the JetBlue factor, until a promotion by the airline was launched in partnership with the Big Blue Bug, which rocked the internet and sold out $20 tickets in minutes.

The promotion launched on GoLocalProv showed the world of advertising has changed forever. 

Launched one minute and thousands sold out nearly instantly.

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10 New England's Business

GoLocal's business team loves to collect and breakdown critical data to help Rhode Islander's get a beat on the story or even the bigger story.

One massively wide-read story was one that pivoted off the data of the Milken Institute and its rankings of all the cities in America.

The Best-Performing Cities study is published annually in order to highlight the cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. that are prospering, and to point out those that are struggling from a structural point of view. By examining job, wage, and technology metrics over a five-year period, the publication utilizes a data-driven approach to provide a comprehensive measure of economic strength.

See which New England cities ranked best overall--both in the 200 largest metros pool and the 176 smallest metros pool.

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9 Arcade is Back

GoLocal has been tracking the Arcade since we came online in 2010 - from investigative video reports about the homeless living in the building to restoration and the reopenning.

While the financial district is only a shadow of itself - kudos need to go out Evan Granoff for pouring millions into the restoration of the classic Greek revival edifice.

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8 38 Studios Defendants

An exclusive report by GoLocal's Investigative Team unveiled that defendant's in the 38 Studio's lawsuit had filed responses, and they had a very different opinion of what caused the collapse and the loss of $100 million to the State of Rhode Island. 

Almost every defendant pinned the blame on Governor Lincoln Chafee for failing to give oversight and then hitting the panic button and forcing the ultimate collapse of the company.

GoLocal posted more than 440 page of court documents.

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7 Social Media

Social media continues to flex its muscle and demonstrate that it is far more influential than legacy media. 

Twitters IPO and the progression of the Facebook model have redefined business.

One article in GoLocal's on going coverage of the metamorphosis of social media was a great guidance article by Johnson & Wales' Sierra Barter which functionally went viral. 

Amazingly, one of the biggest stories of 2013, the effort by union leaders to force John DePetro off the air for calling female teacher protestors "WHORES," has been battled almost exclsuively on social media. 

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6 Alex and Ani Growth

Rhode Island's homegrown Alex and Ani continues at rocket speed growth. 

The Cranston-based, Made in America jewelry company continues to bundle the very best of Rhode Island: jewelry design, old school manufacturing and smart marketing.

According to a study by Bryant University:

 

• Generated $80.04 million in revenue, including $22.06 million in sales in the state of Rhode Island, $51.42 million in sales in other U.S. states, and $6.57 million in exports.

• Supported 1,094 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in Rhode Island, from which 296 are direct FTE jobs and 798 are induced FTE jobs.

• Created $35.4 million in income for Rhode Island households. Direct earnings totaled $10.32 million and induced earnings totaled $25.1 million.

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5 College Endowments

In Rhode Island, colleges and universities are big business. They are major economic engines and each of the local colleges readily announce the positive impact they have on the local economy and job creation.

GoLocal's look at the top 50 endowments of the college and universities in New England, found that Harvard's $30+ billion endowment overshadowed all other colleges in New England.

Brown ranked ranked 5th in New England and 28th overall with an endowment of more than $2.4 billion.

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4 Fastest Growing

While Rhode Island's economy is trailing the rest of the country, there are some bright spots. Throughout 2013, GoLocal featured a number of companies that were fast-growing.

Inc Magazine's fastest growing companies in the US list flagged some real growth engines.

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3 Twin River Rebound

Twin River is now a real casino with humans not video tapes dealing black jack.

Under the leadership of John Taylor, the company has rebounded from bankruptcy and become a model for gaming firms.

Now, Twin River is expanding and has made a strategic purchase in Mississippi.

With casinos coming online in Massachusetts sometime in the future, Twin River is doing a better job diversifying and planning for the future than the state of Rhode Island, who is so dependent on the revenue.

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2 Unemployment

Rhode Island's unemployment situtation is a national embarrassment, and it is hard to see a governmental strategy designed for its improvement. In the post-38 Studios environment, decision-makers are affraid to champion significant initiatives.

The result is now that Rhode Island is last in America in unemployment and the crisis has gone on without improvement for years and years.

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1 Demise of Newspapers

In the past year, the Providence Journal has laid off, demanded buyout or pushed retirements of over 50 reporters, editors and photographers - a staggering percentage of the newsroom.

Many of the those who departed were among the most recognized. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Mike Stanton quit to take a teaching job at UConn and now freelances for the Boston Globe.

Speaking of the Boston Globe, Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Globe from the New York Times for $70 million which represented a 97% loss in value for what the NYTimes had paid for the Globe and other related media.

As GoLocal's Pultizer Prize winning reporter Dean Starkman has written repeatedly about the need for media to invest in content. His words seem to fall on deaf ears.

 
 

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