One of the priorities that University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley articulated the moment he arrived in the Ocean State in 2009 was the need for the state’s land-grant university to become more involved in its economic health.
One way he proposed to do that from the beginning of his tenure was by having URI take over the state’s manufacturing extension service, RIMES. Last year he accomplished that goal, and now the school has taken a next step to reinvigorate the service.
The university now has renamed the office Polaris MEP (for Manufacturing Extension Partnership), and while it will continue to offer guidance through worker training and workplace-efficiency programs, URI wants Ocean State manufacturers to look for consultation about developing new products and new markets. In other words, Mr. Dooley and company want Rhode Island manufacturers to think about growing, not just surviving.
This approach is not just welcome; it is the only one that makes any sense. Competition from the across the globe will do nothing but increase, meaning that the only companies that will survive are those that are pushing forward. And many of the resources that will help Ocean State companies innovate are located at the state’s higher educational institutions, URI included.
Mr. Dooley has finally been able to make this goal a reality. Now it’s up to the state’s manufacturers to step up and take advantage of the resources being made available. •