Laurie White

President & CEO
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
As president of the Greater Providence Chamber Commerce (GPCC) since 2005, Laurie White is devoted to strengthening and growing the state’s economy.  The GPCC is Rhode Island’s only statewide Chamber of Commerce and the largest private sector business advocacy and economic development organization. Its mission is to ensure that every member is prepared to become or continue to be a thriving Rhode Island business.   In driving that mission, Laurie has led an organization which forms the strong and collective voice of the Rhode Island business community. Laurie took a definitive stand to protect Rhode Island businesses against a budget proposal in 2011 which would have increased sales taxes in the state by some $170 million by taxing dozens of goods and services that had not been taxed before. She galvanized the
business community into a coalition which rallied to defeat the proposal.  In 2016, the GPCC was the only business association in the state to support Governor Raimondo’s plan to fund improvements to Rhode Island’s bridges and roads which will significantly upgrade our transportation infrastructure, create jobs and make the state more economically competitive.

Vision and Innovation
A significant portion of Laurie’s work is devoted to developing the state’s Knowledge Economy by driving advanced industry formation, entrepreneurship, medical, academic and industry collaboration, technology transfer, talent retention, competitive tax policy and business attraction.  To move the Knowledge Economy forward, the GPCC has formed Innovation Providence (IP) – an initiative which monthly brings together entrepreneurs, leaders of the state’s colleges, universities, venture funding organizations and innovators from throughout the state to discuss and influence how best to capitalize on and expand Rhode Island’s capacity for innovation. Laurie has led the GPCC in nurturing new ventures which are helping to intensify the flow of talent and energy fueling the success of Rhode Island entrepreneurial ventures. The GPCC has provided seed funding to help establish Betaspring, the Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG). But Laurie did not stop there. At a time when the state lacked a national business attraction presence, Laurie partnered with the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to launch in 2013. The “Think Bigger” campaign continues to serve as a resource for understanding the B2B value proposition for starting, growing, or locating a company in the Ocean State.

Inspiring Leadership
As the first female president of the GPCC in its nearly 150-year history, Laurie inspires other women to prepare themselves and seize opportunities to become leaders. She uses her real-life experience and perspectives on community and business leadership to personally mentor young talent and help to open the doors to their success. Laurie is a consummate bridge builder. She has worked with Rhode Island’s labor community, particularly with the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, to find common ground on critical economic
development issues and projects which grow our economy and create jobs.  This collaboration has evolved into a true partnership which dispels the myth that labor and business can’t work together to move Rhode Island forward.  Laurie has established a close partnership with Governor Raimondo and her administration to advance joint economic development efforts. Laurie serves as a representative on the Governor’s economic development advisory council.

Community Mindedness
Combining economic development expertise and real-world experience by helping to run a small business, Laurie not only leads the GPCC and represents the needs and interests of businesses, she is a community leader committed to making Rhode Island a better place for its people and institutions.   In addition to her work with Junior Achievement, Laurie is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Aquila Municipal Trust –  municipal bond fund complex with offerings in Rhode Island, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah; a member of the Executive Board of the University of Rhode Island Foundation;  a member of the Board of Trustees of Johnson and Wales University; a member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Quality Institute; a member of the Board of Governors of the Rhode Island Commodores; and a
 member of the Board of Directors and an Officer of the John F. White & Company.

JA Mission Moment
My JA moment occurred while co-teaching the first grade with Janet Raymond and the fifth grade with Jamison Miller. I was touched by the fact that the students in both settings were so thrilled to have volunteers in the classroom and were eager to show off their knowledge. They listened intently, followed directions precisely and did a great job naming their own businesses. One little girl was thrilled to announce that she was going to start a novelty pastry business and call it HOT CAKES. They got it!