While the Rhode Island Manufacturing Renaissance Project’s survey of manufacturers in the Ocean State provided a strong dose of optimism when released in May – results indicated manufacturers are ready to add workers and grow exports – backers of the project say their efforts have only begun.
The project’s survey work continues, with the spotlight now trained on manufacturing concerns with fewer than 20 employees. A set of recommendations for policy changes and other actions to help improve the overall climate for manufacturing continues to be refined as manufacturers provide more input.
And a comprehensive database of manufacturers across the state who have been surveyed will be continuously updated and refined.
“We all came to the same conclusion early on – that we need to continue this work long term,” said John Riendeau, director of business development for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation.
The EDC has been reaching out to survey respondents who expressed a desire to work with the agency and in some cases that helped drive additional survey feedback and information to feed the database. “We have had outreach teams in the field meeting with companies since last October,” Riendeau said. “This is definitely something that is ongoing.”
Still, the four groups behind the Renaissance Project – the EDC, the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service and the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association – aren’t waiting to begin helping the manufacturers identified by the survey.
The groups already have processes in place to help those businesses with everything from export advice to supply-chain improvements, access to growth capital and workforce training, said Chafee Center Executive Director Raymond W. Fogarty.
The survey also identified “dozens of supply-chain opportunities” that the partner organizations can use to connect businesses with one another. “We’re hearing every day now feedback from all of our partners about what individual companies are saying and that is guiding us as we go forward,” Fogarty said.