Updated March 26 at 6:25pm

Defense spending in R.I. up 37% since 2003


WASHINGTON - Federal defense and homeland security contracts in Rhode Island have grown 37 percent to $472 million since 2003, according to a new report from the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute.

According to the report, which was released Monday, the contracts are responsible for 12,000 jobs at 389 employers throughout Rhode Island.

“The defense industry is an important contributor to the Rhode Island economy,” said the report.

Much of the work done by Rhode Island businesses “requires highly skilled workers, precisions manufacturing and sophisticated scientific and technical support.”

According to the study, Rhode Island contractors excel in providing specialized manufacturing products and technical services, including spending in the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector for communication, detection and radar equipment.

Raytheon was Rhode Island’s largest defense contractor, accounting for 54.6 percent of all of the state’s contracts in 2011 at $257.3 million.

Comparatively, Systems Engineering Associates and Gilbane Building Co. ranked second and third, pulling in $64.4 million and $18.2 million in defense contracts, respectively.

The Donahue Institute study showed that nearly half of the total $821 million in defense work performed in Rhode Island in 2011 has come from out-of-state vendors, “meaning it helps support the work of defense contractors from other New England states.”

In New England as a whole, defense contracts have surged 85 percent since 2003. In 2011 alone, $33.9 billion in defense and security contracts were pumped into the New England economy.

The Donahue Institute study – which was commissioned by the Defense Technology Initiative - showed that Massachusetts and Connecticut earned the largest share of contracts in 2011, at $13.9 billion and $12.7 billion, respectively.


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