Growing a manufacturing business requires a good support infrastructure, making the geographic area that you choose crucial for many reasons. Are there good transport links to get your product out to your customers? Will it take a long time for your raw materials to arrive from your suppliers? Can you get tax breaks from the government or local authority for setting up in a state? And most importantly, are there people in the area with the skills you need?
CEOs looking to relocate or expand a manufacturing business should focus on those states where government leaders understand the manufacturing landscape in their state and are actively strengthening the industry by addressing its specific challenges. It’s not just about offering economic incentives to manufacturers and simplifying regulations, but also about providing adequate infrastructure, promoting innovation, R&D and the use of technology, and training workers and students.
One state that has successfully risen to meet manufacturing’s challenges (and its new opportunities) is Rhode Island. Led by Governor Gina M. Raimondo, the state has tackled the cost of doing business in Rhode Island, including eliminating the energy sales tax, holding the corporate income tax steady (at the lowest rate in New England), reducing the minimum corporate tax and lowering the unemployment insurance tax. Gov. Raimondo has also embarked on an aggressive new package of workforce training and economic development programs that are rebuilding Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry for the 21st century.
“The current administration understands that Rhode Island needs performance-based incentives,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business organization in Rhode Island. “Not just handing out dollars, but rewarding jobs being created. Rhode Island has a proud history in manufacturing and the recent legislative programs that enable these incentives—that’s what is helping the resurgence in our state.”
“As a business owner, I’m pleased to see the initiatives that Gov. Raimondo is putting forth, and we’re excited to be one of the young companies helping to drive a renaissance in Rhode Island-based manufacturinG.”—Fred Magnanimi, founder and CEO of Luca + Danni
The focus on manufacturing includes economic development incentives like the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit, the Innovation Voucher program and the Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credit program to name a few. The state is also focused on expanding successful training initiatives within the Ocean State. One of those is the Real Jobs RI program, which is helping Electric Boat, among other companies, train hundreds of Rhode Islanders to fill maritime manufacturing jobs.
“Rhode Island is an incredible place to locate a business, raise a family and enjoy an amazing quality of life,” said Fred Magnanimi, founder and CEO of Luca + Danni, a Rhode Island-based jewelry manufacturer. “As a business owner, I’m pleased to see the initiatives that Gov. Raimondo is putting forth, and we’re excited to be one of the young companies helping to drive a renaissance in Rhode Island-based manufacturing.”
To give its population the education and skills they need to succeed and employers a pipeline to the workforce of the future, Rhode Island is bridging the interests of academia and business. The state has made skills training a key priority. Just this past year, Rhode Island has invested an additional $3.65 million to enhance manufacturing programs at the Davies Career and Technical High School and $1.2 million in its Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) initiative. Students enrolled in P-TECH programs take college-level courses while in high school, benefit from internships and mentoring, and graduate with a high school diploma and an industry-approved associate degree. Also, through the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, all Rhode Island high school graduates are eligible to pursue a tuition-free associate degree at the Community College of Rhode Island and the Wavemaker Fellowship provides a financial incentive for graduates who are employed in a STEM or commercially relevant design field to stay in-state for a job or to start a business.
Christian Cowan, who is director of the Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public business development entity providing training to small manufacturers, said: “There are many industry partners focused on making sure middle and high school kids [in Rhode Island] are aware of the benefits of manufacturing and that manufacturing is not dark, dirty and dangerous anymore. It’s highly technical. There’s a strong push to make sure that pipeline of talent is there for the long haul in Rhode Island.”
More information on these and other programs can be found on www.commerceri.com.