Big exports are possible in the smallest state.
At least that’s what business leaders believe, according to a recently released report from the Rhode Island Manufacturing Renaissance Project. The study, “Addressing Perceptions and Realities: The Rhode Island Manufacturing Renewal and Growth Program,” shows exports in the state have grown steadily since 2009.
The findings were released May 22 during World Trade Day at Bryant University in Smithfield.
The document provides insight into Rhode Island’s manufacturing landscape compared to the national environment and provides recommendations it says the state should pursue to grow manufacturing jobs. Among the top two priorities included in the report is the need to focus on manufacturing and grow exports. The report suggests focusing on export opportunities for U.S.-made products and services, which it considers among the fastest ways to grow manufacturing jobs in the country. According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce, 48 percent of the country’s GDP growth in 2012 came from exports.
“Rhode Island manufacturers must recognize and take advantage of the opportunity,” said the report. “Rhode Island is the ideal location for exporters, with our three excellent port facilities and premier airport, modernized rail and highway infrastructure, and commitment to continuous improvement.”
Raymond W. Fogarty, executive director of the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant, said more than 1,000 Rhode Island manufacturers were polled as part of the survey. Among respondents, 70 percent of businesses are currently exporting and 36 percent that are not exporting plan to do so within one to two years.
Another 62 percent are interested in export-strategy planning.
“People have to recognize, ‘Hey, we can be productive here,’ ” said A. Ray Thomas, associate director of the Chafee Center for International Business.