Despite gains, report says industry still struggling
By Rhonda J. Miller PBN Staff Writer
Rhode Island should be attracting a substantial amount of research and development, considering its mostly urban environment, good public and private universities and its human capital, says Michael Hicks, director of Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which last month released its 2014 Manufacturing and Logistics Report.
But Rhode Island received generally poor grades in most of nine categories, scoring above a “C” only in sector diversification, earning a “B.” Some state manufacturing leaders expressed surprise at the overall poor showing.
While Rhode Island maintained its place as average in human capital, the state earned an “F” in the logistics category in the Ball State report. The study measured not only the capacity to move goods, but to store, inventory and manage the distribution and processing of manufactured goods. The study measured logistics-industry income as a share of total state income, and the employment per capita in the logistics industry. The study also covered commodity-flows data by rail and road, and spending per capita on highway construction.
“The ‘F’ in logistics surprised me,” said Bill McCourt, executive director of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association. “We have the port, we have rail, we have highway access, we have a lot of supply-chain capabilities, and Quonset does a great job.”
Another area that McCourt said didn’t seem to match his knowledge of what’s going on in the state was the ‘F’ grade in global reach, which is down from the state’s “D” in that category in 2013.
The study based global reach on export-related measure per capita of exported manufacturing goods, the growth of manufacturing exports and foreign direct investment.