It’s a message that’s been stated repeatedly in an effort to drive Rhode Island’s – and the nation’s – economic recovery: a knowledge-based economy, technical retraining and small-business creation are keys on the road to success. And Rhode Island is making some progress, according to Laurie White, executive director of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber and the Innovation Providence Implementation Council discussed those gains and areas of needed improvement at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence on Nov. 1.
“Relative to other states, Rhode Island has made significant improvements,” White said.
According to the 2012 Rhode Island Innovation Index, existing areas of strength in the Ocean State compared to the rest of the nation include venture-capital investments (fifth) and research & development (third for nonprofit, seventh for academic and eighth for federally funded).
The state has also performed well in securing and higher education attainment (13th), which is the percentage of the population over age 25 with a four-year degree.
“The neurosciences are again a special area of competency and expertise in Rhode Island,” White added.
Other strengths included the availability of high-speed Internet, per capita income and the number of patents issued to colleges and universities in the state.
On the other hand, the index also identified areas considered to be a source of weakness. These included state appropriations for higher education (47th), a poor entrepreneurial climate (42nd), the gross state product growth (42nd) and net domestic migration (36th).
The index evaluated the state’s performance in 23 different categories using several different indicators. Data was compared to national figures as well as New England data and the 27 Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) states. The report was prepared by the Chamber and the R.I. Science & Technology Advisory Council.
According to the Chamber, the building of a knowledge-based economy has drawn the input of more than 500 community leaders over the last four years, when the initiative started.