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Business Beat: Job Lot news, Small Biz resources, Developmental Disabilities training…

Ocean State Job Lot News:

Ocean State Job Lot’s Harry Oakley named Chair of RI Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council

Harry Oakley, Director of Energy, Sustainability, Procurement & Corporate Facilities, has been named chair of the State of Rhode Island’s Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council (EERMC). “It’s a great honor to have been selected to lead the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council for the State of Rhode Island,” said Harry Oakley, Director of Energy, Sustainability, Procurement & Corporate Facilities, Ocean State Job Lot. “By evaluating science and data, engaging stakeholders, and overseeing and promoting our state’s energy efficiency programs, it’s my goal to help guide Rhode Island and its residents into a ‘greener future.’”

As chair, Oakley will collaborate with 14 other EERMC members who represent small and large businesses, nonprofit organizations, market rate and low-income homeowners and renters, municipalities, governments, and environmental science and policy stakeholders. The EERMC is an integral piece of a collaborative decision-making process to implement the legislative mandate of acquiring all cost-effective efficiency resources for the State of Rhode Island.

Oakley and OSJL’s Head of Real Estate, Jonathan Navallo, to speak at SPECS Show 2023.

A premier conference for store planning and facilities professionals produced by Chain Store Age, Oakley and Navallo will speak on Tuesday, March 21st, and lead a discussion entitled Leveraging Roof Space for Profit – and Sustainability, focusing on the profitability and sustainability benefits that solar leasing programs offer.

In 2021, OSJL launched a partnership with the Newport, Rhode Island-based developer, financier, and owner-operator, Ecogy Energy (“Ecogy”), to host the largest rooftop solar portfolio in Rhode Island, hosted atop its stores from Westerly to Woonsocket. This solar portfolio is just one representation of OSJL’s continued dedication to expanding sustainability initiatives company-wide and to giving back to their community. For instance, in 2018, in an effort to lower their carbon footprint, OSJL invested $14 million to modernize its distribution center and store locations with high-efficiency lighting. As a direct result of this complete LED rollout, OSJL reduced their overall energy consumption by 17.4 million kWh in just one year. According to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator that is equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions from 1.3 million gallons of gasoline consumed or the carbon sequestered by 15,108 acres of U.S. forests in one year.

About Ocean State Job Lot:

Founded in 1977, Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL) is a growing, privately held discount retail chain with 152 stores in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, approximately 5,600 employees, and annual sales exceeding $800 million. OSJL Shoppers find an ever-changing array of brand name, first quality merchandise at closeout prices, including household goods, apparel, pet supplies, seasonal products (holiday, gardening, patio, pool, and beach supplies), and kitchen pantry staples at a fraction of their typical price. The company was named a four-time “Best Employer” by Forbes® Magazine*, a two-time US Best Managed Company by Deloitte, and received a first-place Inspiring Workplaces in North America Award. *Ocean State Job Lot is not affiliated with Forbes®.

The Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation has a long history of philanthropic leadership, supporting numerous causes, including feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, assisting veterans and military families, aiding animal rescue, caring for children, advancing healthcare, supporting the arts, and promoting learning. The Foundation’s operational, administrative, and overhead expenses are covered by Ocean State Job Lot, not the Foundation, ensuring that 100% of every dollar raised through the Foundation goes directly to helping those in need.

Ocean State Job Lot is headquartered in the Quonset Point Business Park at 375 Commerce Park Road, North Kingstown, RI 02852.  Phone: (401) 295-2672; Website:


Providence Public Library Offers Free Small Business Workshop Series Beginning March 25

In conjunction with RI SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) Providence Public Library (PPL) will begin its spring Small Business Workshop Series on Saturday, March 25 from 9:30 am – 12 pm. The eight-session series will run through May 13 in PPL’s Seminar Room (3rd floor) and via Zoom.  Registration is required. 

Register here for some or all sessions:  Contact Ann Poulos with questions at [email protected].   

If you are thinking of starting a business of your own and wondering where to begin, get the basics at this FREE informational workshop series. RI SCORE counselors present and discuss the various aspects of planning and owning a business. PPL staff discusses print and electronic resources available at the Library to research your business and marketing plan.

Schedule of Workshops

March 25 Start-up Fundamentals

April 1 Marketing for Start-ups & Established Businesses 

April 8 eCommerce and Digital Marketing 

April 15 Taxes for the Small Business

April 22  Accounting for the Small Business

April 29  Social Media for Your Business 

May 6  Small Business Funding 

May 13  Discovering Your Business Model

To receive a Zoom link for any program, contact Ann Poulos at [email protected] or 401-455-8005.


BIG Resources for Small Business Fair

Wednesday, March 22 | 4:00 – 7:00pm
City of Warwick, Sawtooth Building | 65 Centerville Rd, Warwick, RI

Registration is FREE

If you are in business or looking to start a business, you should be here!  Features an informational open house and presentations.
Presentations include:

4:30pm – What You Need to Know to Get a Business Loan
Presented by:  Buck Harris, VP/Loan Officer, Community Investment Corporation

5:30pm – Plan, Start, Maintain, or Grow Your Business with the RI Department of State
Presented by:  Kristen Cordeiro, Deputy Director of Business Services, R.I. Secretary of State

6:30pm – Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing
Presented by:  Taylor Cacciola, Co- Founder, Namra Consulting Resources and information being provided by:  U.S. Small Business Administration – Rhode Island District Office, City of Warwick – Department of Economic Development, Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, U.S Chamber of Commerce, Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE), Community Investment Corporation (CIC), Commerce Rhode Island, John H. Chafee Center for International Business, Rhode Island Secretary of State, Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (Employer Engagement Team and Veteran Services), Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Rhode Island, Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program Hub), South Eastern Economic Development Corporation (SEED)

Click Here to Register


RI Developmental Disabilities Council Leads the Way With Self Employment Classes 

Business Development Classes, webinars, and programs abound throughout Rhode Island and, in fact, every state. However, the RI Developmental Disabilities Council’s (RIDDC) Self Employment Project is unique and noteworthy due to its extensive, multi-faceted approach with ongoing support for its participants. 

Started in 2018, The RI Self Employment Business Incubator Project, funded by the RI Department of Labor and Training (DLT), includes not only business professional instructors and individual mentors to provide essential information on business basics but also assigns professional experts in various specialties – such as marketing and finance – to provide technical assistance to each participant. Each student also completes a Business Portfolio, which includes their business plan, elevator pitch, marketing ideas, financial projections, and other information essential to their business. 

While many programs end with a certificate and well-wishes, the completion of RIDDC’s eight-week self-employment series – which kicked off in 2016 after RIDDC community members had difficulty finding classes and resources that catered to their needs – is only the beginning. Sue Babin, Special Projects Director at RIDDC said, “We found that we needed to create a unique program for people with disabilities interested in entrepreneurship, so we re-dedicated our efforts to enhance the program in ways we knew would help aspiring small business owners.”

Once they’ve completed the course, each participant is invited to attend weekly networking meetings and continuing education via Zoom, receive direct sales through vendor marketplace opportunities, and has the opportunity to apply for mini-grants. The mini-grants, which are awards of up to $1500.00, can be used toward any business-related expenses, including raw materials, supplies, printing, computer software, or even a computer itself, to participants who have completed homework assignments, including a business plan.

Additionally, the RIDDC recognizes that the participants of their classes may be extremely motivated and have creative, inspiring ideas they likely need assistance with some of the more mundane – but imperative – tasks of running a business. The program leaders, therefore, provide assistance with things like getting business cards printed, creating social media pages, and connecting program participants and/or their support person with industry professionals who may be able to provide further assistance.

The program originally evolved from the nationally celebrated annual Small Business Saturday event. In 2017, RIDDC launched Small Business Saturday Shop RI (SBSSHOPRI), the first one-day, all-under-one-roof, pop-up shopping mall venue. Designed to help entrepreneurs with disabilities sell their products, the event also includes a wider range of small business owners, especially women, veterans, and minorities.

To date, the RIDDC Self Employment Project has seen roughly 140 graduates complete its program and welcomes a steady flow of new participants each year. Meanwhile, SBSSHOPRI has welcomed thousands of shoppers and up to one-hundred and fifty vendors each year. Together, both programs work to provide a much-needed boost to Rhode Island’s small business community while taking special care to encourage and support minority and underrepresented business owners.


The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) believes that people with developmental disabilities should fully participate in community life. Men, women, and children should be able to enjoy family life. Children and adolescents should go to school. Adults should work. All should have decent homes, have friends, and live as independently as possible. For more information, visit