According to the National Association of Manufacturers, every manufacturing job is supported by 3.5 service jobs. It is no wonder, then, that politicians want to talk up the sector. Growing manufacturing jobs not only adds highly paid, blue-collar workers to payrolls, it helps bring down the country’s persistent unemployment problem, too.
Thankfully, a number of Rhode Island manufacturers seem to be taking advantage of the opportunity, one that is growing larger every minute as economic uncertainty hurts foreign concerns used to exporting their way to prosperity.
May’s World Trade Day at Bryant University highlighted a number of enterprises that were growing by building their exports and taking back market share from global competitors. Their keys to success:
• Efficiency – bringing costs down but also becoming more productive allows high-value-add products to compete on quality and price, always a good combination. A local example is Chem-Art in Lincoln.
• Product innovation – making things that no one else is putting into the market is always a simple path to success. Alex and Ani is an obvious choice in this category, but Biomedical Structures, Hope Global and Cooley Group are all innovating their way to new markets.
• Better, broader supply-chain management – it’s one thing to talk about the global marketplace, but another to actually take part in it. Reaching new customers outside our borders takes effort, but there are rewards. Just ask Gripnail.
So the next time someone asks what the state can do to pull itself out of the hole it is in, just say, “support manufacturers.” •