Updated July 3 at 9:03pm

Fighting flight of jobs overseas

'They are winning based on price, competitiveness and quality.'

Are American jobs that were once shipped overseas now returning to Rhode Island? For Raymond W. Fogarty, director of the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Furthermore, he insists that the trend isn’t luck but skill, as local companies are now able to better compete with their foreign counterparts with improved, cheaper products.

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MANUFACTURING

Fighting flight of jobs overseas

'They are winning based on price, competitiveness and quality.'

Posted:

Are American jobs that were once shipped overseas now returning to Rhode Island? For Raymond W. Fogarty, director of the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Furthermore, he insists that the trend isn’t luck but skill, as local companies are now able to better compete with their foreign counterparts with improved, cheaper products.

“They are not winning their contracts by waving a flag and saying, ‘Buy in the USA,’ they are winning based on the price, competitiveness and quality control of our products,” Fogarty said. American costs have flattened while its productivity continues to skyrocket; there is a brighter future for job growth in manufacturing, Fogarty said.

“Many of the companies we work with have something to do with manufacturing,” said Fogarty of the center, which provides international business assistance for those in the state looking for market research or training programs. “Furthermore, the National Association of Manufacturers came out with a study that said for every one manufacturing job, 3.4 services jobs are created.”

He is confident that if 10,000 manufacturing jobs are created locally, an additional 34,000 in supporting services will follow. Together, the 44,000 jobs would take a large bite out of the state’s unemployed – as of May 2012, the number of unemployed Rhode Island residents was 61,400, according to the DLT.

Laura Hart, communications manager for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, agrees with Fogarty that manufacturing is returning. “You can definitely see it,” said Hart, who sees grant applications from small businesses on a regular basis.

Manufacturing played a large role at this year’s 27th annual World Trade Day at Bryant University on May 23. This year’s theme, “Made in the USA” focused on a resurgence in local manufacturing and a return of such jobs from overseas. For much of the 2000s manufacturing left the state; now, that trend is reversing.

As part of trade day, approximately 12 companies were profiled, complete with interviews and video, in a thorough examination to see what is working overseas and what efforts are failing, and why. “Many of these companies are globally competitive today even though they were having a difficult time two years ago,” he said. “It’s become more promising with each year.”

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