Governor: Johnson & Johnson to expand into Wexford facility

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Wexford Science and Technology campus slated for the vacant 195 land in Providence has secured a third tenant, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced on Friday: Johnson & Johnson.

The Fortune 100 company already planted roots in the Ocean State this year with a health technology center office that employs roughly 40 workers so far, but Raimondo said it will be expanding its footprint significantly.

“They are going to have hundreds of their employees here,” the governor said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “They’re growing – they like being in Rhode Island.”

The Wexford project is the centerpiece to Raimondo’s plan for the old highway land, which became vacant when the bridge that carries I-195 over the Providence River was relocated. The state has authorized more than $30 million in taxpayer subsidies to get the project off the ground. The eventual plan is to turn two parcels into a million-square-foot-plus multi-use complex.

A groundbreaking for the Wexford project is set for Monday, and Raimondo is slated to be joined there by Rhode Island’s entire congressional delegation, as well as the leaders of the General Assembly and officials from the other two announced tenants, Brown University and the Cambridge Innovation Center.

An aerial rendering of the Wexford project’s first phase.

Separately, Raimondo also acknowledged in the wide-ranging interview that she may need to renew the state’s contract with technology giant Deloitte, the company hired to build the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP). The system has been plagued with problems since it launched a year ago, and Raimondo hasn’t paid the company in months as they work to get the problems fixed.

“I would love to fire them – let me be clear, no one would love to fire them more than me,” Raimondo said. But, she continued, “I’m not going to do that if I think it will hurt our ability to deliver on the project.”

Raimondo said she is still considering suing Deloitte for damages, but argued that shifting to a different tech company – if there were even any takers – to take over the UHIP system “could be an even bigger disaster.”

“I didn’t sign the first contract and probably wouldn’t have because it was a hard contract to hold them accountable for,” Raimondo said, alluding to former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s decision to launch the project years ago. “We are in a tough situation. There is nothing to sugarcoat about this.”

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.