MAKING IT WORK: Elizabeth Potenza, an independent fabricator and artist, at work at The Steel Yard, in Providence. The nonprofit routinely partners with local businesses for industrial painting, power coating and sandblasting of its goods.
Can a movement and a logo that brandishes “Made in Rhode Island” as its moniker boost local commerce?
Rhode Island state officials and businesses who manufacture tangible goods that originate here are about to find out. A new law signed by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee on June 25 establishes a task force to address that question, with a deadline of April 30, 2014, for forwarding findings and recommendations about implementation to the governor and General Assembly.
The unpaid collaborative and advisory panel’s work will include determining what other states’ practices are, which businesses and products would be eligible for the label, designation of a logo, sources of funding, and how to effectively deploy marketing strategies to educate the public and build consumer awareness.
Serving as chairman of a new Made in Rhode Island Collaborative, Marcel A. Valois, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, will facilitate the work to be done by the collaborative and a business advisory committee. The EDC staff will help.
“The whole intent here is consistent with our own mission to help businesses in Rhode Island grow and find new markets,” Valois said in a recent phone interview. “This legislation goes to the heart of making sure we understand what we have in our own backyard, something Rhode Island designed and made, and how to bring that to the forefront.”
Businesses that may be eligible to use the “Made in Rhode Island” logo and any other marketing tools are manufacturers or creative producers of tangible goods that originate in Rhode Island. Agricultural and seafood products are not included.
Howie Sneider, public projects director for The Steel Yard, a maker of steel benches, bike racks and other utilitarian and custom-made artistic creations, testified in favor of the new law and is eager to see it implemented.