After declaring in her State of the State address that she aims to “rebuild and reinvent” the manufacturing industry, Gov. Gina Raimondo took a step toward keeping her promise on Thursday. She visited jewelry manufacturer Luca + Danni in Cranston to launch the Rhode Island Manufacturing Initiative and sign an executive order to establish a manufacturing advisory council.
The governor said she wants to create and bring back manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island, and that the council established by her executive order will help advise her on the best ways to fulfill that goal.
“I brought together a group of about 20 leaders from manufacturing…We’re going to meet regularly, talk about what I can be doing to make it easier to run a business manufacturing here, and make it more likely that they’re going to grow jobs in Rhode Island,” she told reporters after signing her executive order. “I figure they know what they need. They’re on the ground, they’re hiring people every day, and they’re building businesses every day. [They will] tell me what the barriers are we can get rid of, what we can be doing so they grow here.”
Luca + Danni was picked as the location for the announcement as a way of highlighting the small, family-owned manufacturers in the state, Raimondo said, adding that many of the proposals outlined in her budget are geared toward assisting these types of businesses.
Fred Magnanimi, founder, CEO and creative director at Luca + Danni, said it was nice to be able to open up and put the work of the factory on display.
“I think this is a very visible and tangible example of American manufacturing,” he said. “My team and I take a lot of pride in being able to manufacture things here.” He added that he was excited about the governor’s initiatives.
Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor also expressed approval for Raimondo’s enthusiasm for manufacturing, saying that making jobs in the industry available would be important to supporting families.
“We need to make sure we are creating the kinds of jobs and opportunities across the board that are available to all Rhode Islanders and that, as our economy improves, we expand in creating the kinds of jobs that support families,” he said.
The Rhode Island Manufacturing Initiative includes economic development incentives to encourage manufacturers to purchase new equipment, launch new product lines and hire new workers. It also expands training initiatives like Real Jobs RI, which assists Electric Boat and other companies in training hundreds of Rhode Islanders to fill maritime manufacturing jobs at Quonset.
In terms of economic development, the initiative will include: $3.25 million investment to establish a Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit which provides manufacturing businesses with a refundable tax credit on a competitive basis for the purchase of new equipment; $550,000 to expand Polaris MEP technical assistance for local manufacturing companies; $1 million (of $2.5 million) in the Innovation Voucher program dedicated to supporting manufacturers’ in-house research and development; New language in the Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credit program that reduces the minimum hiring requirement for growing manufacturers; and the establishment of an Innovation Center for Design and Manufacturing to help entrepreneurs scale up and bring ideas to prototype and eventually to market.
It will also provide $3.65 million to enhance manufacturing programs at the Davies Career and Technical High School; $2 million for the Job-ready Workplace Learning Program to provide refundable job training tax credits on a competitive basis to help support job training $1.2 million to invest in the state’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) initiative to continue the manufacturing training partnership at Westerly High School and potentially create another partnership related to manufacturing; and The Rhode Island’s Promise free college proposal which will guarantee every Rhode Island student an opportunity earn an associate’s degree from CCRI or attend URI or RIC tuition-free during their junior and senior years.