Rhode Island Manufacturers Association
The Unified Voice of Manufacturing in Rhode Island since 1997
In 2015, the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association worked hard delivering the message that our State needs to create an environment and climate that is more business friendly and that a strong manufacturing base is critical to maintaining a healthy economy. Education, workforce training and closing the manufacturing skills gap were also some of our primary focal points.
From a legislative standpoint, some of our recent accomplishments included:
Initiating legislation that eliminated the 10% indirect cost recovery for Job Development Fund payments by RI employers, whereby an additional $1.5MM could be made available for much-needed job training programs.
Spearheading legislation to reform / enhance our career and tech high school education system; shining the spotlight on the importance of adequately supporting alternative education pathways.
Initiated state funding our the state's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Polaris MEP) that will allow smaller companies obtain critical support services that will enable them to grow and thrive.
Ensuring that there were no broad-based increases in taxes statewide that would negatively impact manufacturers. This includes opposition to numerous bills that would increase the income tax rates on individuals, as well as support for reducing the corporate tax rate and eliminating the estate tax cliff.
We have also ensured that our voices are heard on the national level in Washington, D.C. Our former Chairman, Al Lubrano, serves as a member of the Board and Steering Committees of the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Department of Commerce Industry Trade Advisory Committee.
During 2015 we also continued our efforts to raise much-needed awareness to importance of our local manufacturing companies. The RI Manufacturing Renaissance Collaborative to identify and highlight the capabilities of the more than 2,000+ continues to move forward. This effort is in partnership with the Chafee Center at Bryant University, Polaris MEP, and the RI Commerce Corporation. In May 2014 we launched a comprehensive RI Manufacturing Directory (www.manufacturingRI.com).
We also continue to be the state leader in manufacturing workforce development and career and technical education. Created in 2013, the RI Manufacturing Institute, d/b/a makeRI, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to the development and support of manufacturing career education programs. In 2014 we added a full-time employee dedicated to this effort and we launched the Rhode Island "Dream It. Do It." program, a network coordinated by the Manufacturing Institute. We have also been an integral part of the Manufacturing Industry Partnership with the Governors Workforce Board and, in July 2015, took over as the formal partner running this program.
We are extremely active in a number of new manufacturing grant projects. During 2013 we received an EDA planning grant; the funds have been used to develop a RI Design and Manufacturing Center (aka STEAMengine). This center will allow us to better match the industrial design talent at our local colleges and universities with the deep manufacturing talent of our local companies. We are also participating in the New England Digital Manufacturing and Design Center (DMDI); a consortium of businesses, universities and other manufacturing partners throughout New England.
* * * * *
We are deeply concerned about continued poor rankings regarding business competitiveness and our extremely high unemployment rate. RIMA’s 2016 legislative package is being developed and includes specific issues such as flexible holiday schedules, more effective use of job development fund dollars and more focus on workforce development / career and technical education. We remain focused on the much-needed ongoing regulatory reform process. We will continue to focus on our vigilant stand against new and/or escalating taxes and regulation, as well as working toward necessary cost-reduction / efficiency strategies at the state and local level. We worry about the impact of Rhode Island’s huge deficits, the growing pension / post-retirement benefit obligations and how these affect tax policy, the business climate and quality of life in our state.
As an organization, we have made great progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done. RIMA needs your support to continue our progress in achieving our goal to legislate Rhode Island into the top quartile amongst states nationwide in terms of manufacturing competitiveness. If you would like to meet with me to discuss our accomplishments and our current objectives, please feel free to contact me at 401.751.0160 or email me at email@example.com. Together we can and will continue to make a difference for manufacturers both large and small across the State of Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association is a nonprofit, member-driven association created to enhance the ability of Rhode Island manufacturers to compete effectively and profitably in local, national and global markets by legislating Rhode Island into the top quartile among states in terms of manufacturing competitiveness. RIMA’s goal is to serve as the unified voice of the state’s manufacturing sector. RIMA will educate and influence the public, the media, and government officials regarding the important contribution a strong manufacturing base makes to our local, national and global economies. RIMA continuously strives to improve the business climate in which our members operate and the workforce our members employ, for the express purpose of delivering tangible bottom-line benefits.
RIMA is committed to a future in which Rhode Island stands as a model of successful partnership between a state’s government and its manufacturing community. RIMA is dedicated to developing an energetic, positive business climate that retains existing businesses, while also attracting new businesses and capital. RIMA is dedicated to raising the level of awareness of manufacturing’s importance as the foundation of Rhode Island’s economic prosperity.
It was a different era, but less than thirty years ago, the United States was the world's unchallenged economic leader. Rhode Island's industrial sector played an important role in that leadership. In those days, competitors were more likely to be down the street than around the globe. Well-trained and highly motivated employees were plentiful. Although manufacturers operated with some governmental constraints, DEM, EPA, or OSHA (and their bureaucracies and mountains of paperwork) had yet to be founded. Manufacturers were still able to offer employees and their families a wonderful standard of living. Merely being in business seemed a guarantee of profitability.
Times have changed. In today's global marketplace, manufacturers must compete with other countries, many of which offer lower costs and competitive quality. Our own fifty states are each scrambling to strengthen their industrial sectors in order to insure their own economic survival. Unfortunately, Rhode Island has not been a leader in this movement. On the contrary, other states beckon Rhode Island manufacturers to move their plants to greener pastures.
As a result of an uninformed, sometimes lethargic public sector, Rhode Island's industrial base has shrunk dramatically in the last two decades and continues to shrink today. The loss of these wealth-producing entities is increasing the tax burden on the remaining companies and their employees. Unfortunately, few legislators seem to understand the effect of this loss of economic vitality and its impact on Rhode Island's quality of life. It seems they do not appreciate the importance of manufacturers who add value, create wealth, and fuel the economic engines of our society.
Many manufacturers believe this must change and change soon. That is why a number of us, each a president, division manager, or owner of his or her own manufacturing company, formed the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association. At a recent meeting of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, Ed Roberts of the Indiana Manufacturers Association stated: "Those states that have dedicated manufacturing associations are the states that are proving to be the most successful in growing and retaining manufacturing businesses."
In 1997, Rhode Island's manufacturers transformed what had been an informal effort into an incorporated organization by establishing the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, RIMA. Today, maintaining a strong presence as a permanent part of our state's economic landscape, the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association employs an executive director, a staff dedicated to workforce development, a professional marketing and communications firm, and a lobbying firm representing the interests of manufacturing in the legislature and other halls of government.
In 2013, the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association re-established a partnership with the RI Manufacturing Institute, reinforcing their mutual commitment to workforce development. As a result, RIMA has grown to represent the voices of the more than two thousand manufacturing companies statewide who employ a workforce of more than 41,000 across the state. Working collaboratively, manufacturing workforce development initiatives will be enhanced as well as training for diversified industries throughout the state.
Our efforts focus solely on those issues that affect manufacturing. Our campaign for change is, and will continue to be, based on facts and research. It is low-key, but effective. Much of the work is performed behind the scenes and directed at educating the public sector and our state government about manufacturing in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association is committed to bringing long-term benefits to manufacturers, and ultimately, to all the people of Rhode Island.