Last week’s World Trade Day, the 28th edition of the annual Bryant University event, and the largest of its kind in the Northeast, if not the country, had an added bonus.
In addition to a full day of seminars and panel discussions about how local businesses can do a better job of growing their operations and accessing global markets, the sponsoring John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant, along with partners that included the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, the R.I. Manufacturing Extension Services and The Rhode Island Foundation, published Rhode Island Manufacturing 1000.
The survey of the 1,200 manufacturing concerns in the state with 20 or more employees is the initial step in helping rebuild the state’s manufacturing sector. It is the first database that allows keyword searchable access to which companies are making what. No longer will people be stumped when trying to get an answer to the question, “Does anyone make that in Rhode Island?”
Aside from the obvious advantage to companies looking for customers or suppliers, the database should help still the ill-founded rumors that the sector has collapsed. More than 40,000 Rhode Islanders are employed by manufacturers, a number that is expected to grow over the next five years. In fact, 56 percent of the respondents to the survey said that they had expanded their operations in the past three years, although with productivity improvements oftentimes that does not mean more jobs, just more secure jobs.
The next step is to expand the survey to those companies with fewer than 20 employees, making the project even more valuable to manufacturers and the state. •