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The upside of hope in Rhode Island

Nine individuals who are bullish and optimistic amid the state's current tough times
By IAN DONNIS  |  January 29, 2009

Photo by Frank Mullin

Andy Cutler
Age: 42
Where he's from: Swampscott, Massachusetts
Moved to RI: 2003
Level of hope and optimism for the state's future, on a scale of 1 to 10: "It is a 10, it truly, truly is."
Reasons to be cheerful: A slew of new Rhode Islanders have quickly integrated themselves in efforts to promote economic development in the state.
Prior to moving to Rhode Island six years ago, Andy Cutler was working for a large public-relations firm in New York City, and visiting Providence on weekends to see his girlfriend. Contemplating what he wanted in a community, it dawned on him that "all the boxes were checked" in Rhode Island's capital — including arts and culture; the chance to get involved; a short commute to work; and the presence of high-caliber people.

Looking back, Cutler, who now has his own PR company, says, "I didn't know how right I was at the time." Although people had told him he'd have to go to Boston to find clients, "that wasn't the case at all in my experience," and he's done work for the state Economic Development Corporation and a number of the new wave of geek companies, including the aforementioned Ecolect, A2B Tracking Solutions, Rite-Solutions, and Ximedica, among others.

Despite the tough economy, Cutler says he has never been more excited about Rhode Island's future. In part because of the emergence of network-savvy entrepreneurs, he says, "I just think people are a lot more open to opportunity now than they were before, and I think that makes it a really dynamic time." As one example of this, he points to how a handful of entrepreneurs, including himself — most of whom do not have children — approached Tom Brady, the newish Providence school superintendent, before Christmas, and offered their assistance, sparking an ongoing dialogue about involving entrepreneurs in the city's schools. "If I wanted to do those things in New York or San Francisco," Cutler notes, "it would take 25 calls or emails to schedule it. Here, it took one."

To read Ian Donnis's politics + media blog, go to He can be reached at

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, the URL to  Providence Youth Student Movement's Web site was listed incorrectly as, and Matt Grigsby's and Brett Smiley's pictures were matched with the wrong profiles The corrections have been made above.

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