FY 2022 Annual Report – Rhode Island’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership

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Moving Manufacturers — and the Ocean State Economy — Forward

Table with metrics of positive impact on jobs, sales and savings generated by Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center, Polaris MEP

As the designated Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, Polaris MEP’s team helped clients move forward in FY 2022 (July 2021 through June 2022) through innovation, connections and collaboration.

Polaris MEP’s IMPACT during this time included $96.9 million in increased or retained sales,  and 974 jobs added or retained by small and medium-sized manufacturers.

This time period featured both challenges — the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain breakdowns, workforce shortages — and great achievement. Check out the “year at a glance” slideshow below for some of the highlights.

Uniquely Positioned to Deliver IMPACT from State- and Federally-Funded Manufacturing Support

Polaris MEP leverages state funding to pull federal dollars down and provide resources to Rhode Island manufacturing companies. This sector includes ~1,400+ employers and accounts for nearly 10% of the state’s private sector workforce.

A trusted non-profit, we are uniquely positioned to deliver measurable impact from state and federal investments.

The “MEP” in our name stands for Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and is key to our achievements.

  • We are mission-driven to grow and strengthen RI’s Manufacturing sector.
  • We are the local affiliate of the national Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership network and a business unit of the URI Research Foundation. This Extends our reach so we can leverage regional and national resources to benefit RI.
  • We Partner with industry, academia, government and beyond to maximize results.

Download a PDF of the report to learn more about the positive outcomes of work with manufacturing employers in FY2022.

Questions? Comments? Call Marketing Manager Erin Read at 401-270-8896 x 406.


2022 Annual IMPACT Report

Click on the image to download a PDF of this year’s Polaris MEP Annual IMPACT report.

Graphic from Polaris 2020 Annual Report on Rhode Island Manufacturing- cover

Selected Polaris MEP CY 2022 Accomplishments

Click on any yellow button to learn more.


Polaris MEP partnered with RI DOH and RIMA to remind manufacturers of free COVID-19 test kits available to help control the spread of the virus. After receiving messages from Polaris MEP, more than 300 manufacturing businesses pursue additional details on the resource.

Polaris MEP and RIMA had previously partnered with the state to pilot workplace testing. Following the program’s success among manufacturers, the state rolled the offer out to all Rhode Island employers.

Partnership: Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA), Rhode Island Department of Health.


Boy using VR headsetPolaris MEP VR (virtual reality) manufacturing career awareness and training pilot was featured in the Johnston Sunrise. The program partnered with five  K-12 schools and engaed 57 unique users, increasing interest and enthusiasm in manufacturing career pathways.

Extension: Funded by a mini-grant from AmericaWorks

Partnership: Support from Rhode Island Department of Education Career & Technical Education board; Scituate Schools, Coventry Schools, Providence Public School District, Met School, Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing/CCRI


Applications opened for Scale Up! RI, a 6-month long program designed to help companies move towards commercialization and scalable production. Nearly 30 companies applied; 11 were chosen for the program.

Extension: Funded by the US Economic Development Agency’s Sprint Challenge

Partnership: 401 Tech Bridge


Graphic overview of Polaris MEP Automation Readiness service for RI ManufacturersIn 2022, Polaris MEP introduced more than 15 new “products” for RI manufacturers, including:

  • Inventory Control Management (Feb)
  • Automation readiness service (March)
  • Coaching and communications series with national DDI certification (March)
  • 3D scanning for facility layout, reverse engineering and quality (April)
  • Online ToolingU training with national certification (April)
  • Product commercialization “bootcamp” (May)
  • Lean Office training (August)
  • “Kata in a Box” Continuous Improvement workshop (September)
  • Spaghetti diagram training (October)

 All new products are custom training or implementation solutions which respond to manufacturer demand and/or advance the sector’s competitiveness.

Extension: Several courses built on programs proven successful within MEP National Network. 

Partnership: Local 3D specialists, national education/training experts.


Real Jobs RI-funded “Phoenix” cohort begins deep dive into Lean Six Sigma tools/practices that improve operational efficiency, reduce defects.

Manufacturing: 15 students from 6 unique companies. Quote from participant.


Polaris MEP and parent organization URI Research Foundation (URIRF) expressed support for Representative David N. Cicilline’s “Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act.” The Rhode Island Congressman brought attention to the act with a press event at Pawtucket manufacturing company Nautilus Defense.

URIRF’s Christian Cowan noted “Rhode Island has proven that there are great economic impacts when industry, government, academia and non-profits collaborate and create strategic partnerships.”

Extension: Rhode Island Congressional Delegation, URI Research Foundation/401 Tech Bridge, Rhode Island Textile Innovatin Network


A video still of Project Manager Nathan Bonds smiling with red YouTube play button.Project Manager Nathan Bonds shares tips on eliminating Overproduction waste in a new “Lean Tip” video.

The key, he says, is to take the advice of G.I. Joe – “knowing, is half the battle.”

Polaris MEP produced 18 short- and long-form video and virtual trainings in 2022, to make it easier for manufacturers to know and perform better.

Extension: Hundreds of Rhode Island manufacturers, partners and service providers engaged with Polaris MEP virtual events and videos in CY2022.


Southeast Asian New Year 2022Polaris MEP sponsored a food giveaway catering to Rhode Island’s Southeast Asian Community during a rainy “Year of the Tiger” event. The outreach stemmed from a growing partnership with the Center for Southeast Asians.

Extension: Helped a traditionally underserved population learn about career opportunities in manufacturing.


18 Fast Track to Manufacturing (FTM) students walked a CCRI stage to accept certificates in advanced manufacturing skills. Polaris MEP created the FTM program after identifying a gap in skilled CNC (computer numerical controlled) candidates. To date the program has trained more than 190 unemployed/underemployed Rhode Islanders for good-paying growth careers in RI’s manufacturing sector.

Partnership: Delivered by and with Community College of Rhode Island, funded by Real Jobs RI/Department of Labor & Training


Polaris MEP sponsored the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Latina Women in Business” event. 

The outreach was part of Polaris MEP’s ongoing partnership with the RIHCC.

Partnership: Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


The Center collaborated on a “Meet the Buyer” event, introducting Nexans (contracted to supply cable to the Revolution Wind project) to local suppliers and contractors.

Present national, regional and local resources available to manufacturers through Polaris MEP for “Strengthening Your Supply Chain.”

DID YOU KNOW? Polaris MEP’s offices are located within Rhode Island Commerce, as are those of SupplyRI and other key economic development departments.

Partnership: SupplyRI, Rhode Island Commerce, CIC Providence, Venture Cafe Providence.


Aarin Clemons talks about manufacturing recruiting, brand and culture on the Manufacturing Monday Motivation linkedin interview June 2022Polaris MEP Workforce Manager Aarin Clemons was the featured guest on a national podcast, “Manufacturing Monday Motivation.”

Clemons told host Curt Anderson the biggest challenge he sees for manufacturing is to “Brand manufacturing as a fantastic career with a wide set of opportunities. And a small addendum to that is eliminating the conversation of college OR work, because it’s not an either/or particularly in this industry. It’s a YES/AND.”

Partnership: SupplyRI, Rhode Island Commerce, CIC Providence, Venture Cafe Providence.


IndustryWeek, the leading national trade magazine, features an article written by  Polaris MEP manufacturing advisor Ted Kennedy. In it, Kennedy shares best practices for inventory control based on his years of experience and the new Polaris MEP “Inventory 101” workshop.

Extension: From Rhode Island to a national audience!


A consortium led by the URI Research Foundation was designated a “Defense Manufacturing Community” and directed by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) to pursue a grant of $5,000,000 to strengthen Rhode Island’s maritime defense industrial base.

The grant application would later prove successful, establishing an exciting new program, RI MADE, which will be managed by Polaris MEP.

URIRF’s Christian Cowan said that the designation is a win for Rhode Island defense manufacturers and the entire regional supply chain. Per a study by Polaris MEP, the Defense subsector creates more than $5 billion of economic impact in the Ocean State.

Partnership: Rhode Island Federal Delegation, URI Research Foundation, ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing), MxD


Polaris MEP hosts the first “Manufacturing Women’s Luncheon” to connect, support and boost women in industry. The sold-out program featured exercises to identify key challenges and opportunities for women working in Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector.

Partnership: Women in Manufacturing (Massachusetts chapter)


Polaris MEP was a sponsor and organizer of a thought-provoking event at URI – the Textile Sustainability Forum.

The program included presentations by researchers and a career/product showcase featuring innovative Rhode Island textile manufacturers. Video recordings are available! Click the yellow button.

Partnership: Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network, University of Rhode Island, URI Research Foundation, 401 Tech Bridge, UNIFI


More than 100 legislators, manufacturing leaders and ecosystem partners turned out for the release of the 2022 State of Rhode Island Manufacturing report. The first-ever report is an in-depth study of trends affecting the sector.

Research and analysis incorporated public data and a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island manufacturers. The study includes recommendations to keep the Rhode Island Manufacturing industry as an economic driver for the state.

Manufacturing: The study represents a collaborative effort, with significant input by owners and senior leaders from manufacturing companies of all sizes and across all manufacturing subsectors. 


Polaris MEP welcomed 350 students from grades 8 through 12 for a Manufacturing Day career exploration at Farm Fresh RI. 

The theme of the day was “RI’s Future in the Making.” Students interacted with prospective employers, learned about #MadeInRI products, and got excited about good-paying high-growth careers in the sector.

Partnership: Sponsors included the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training, Skills for RI’s Future, General Dynamics Electric Boat, and Taylor Box Company


Polaris MEP renewed its cooperative agreement with the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Rhode Island non-profit was re-designated as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for the state.

MEP center awards are recompeted every 10 years, with awards lasting for up to 10 years, subject to availability of federal funds and the good standing of the applicant.

Extension: US Department of Commerce/NIST


Offshore Wind farm - Blue Economy.URI - Ayla FoxRhode Island’s success and early leadership in Offshore Wind has attracted attention across the U.S. Polaris MEP is sharing knowledge and working to build a foundation that ensures local manufacturers benefit from future industry growth.  (And Rhode Island benefits from these highly-skilled jobs.)

To that end, Polaris MEP teamed up with the SupplyRI/Rhode Island Commerce Offshore Wind Supply Chain team to host MEP representatives from 6 different states for an “offshore wind 101.”

The full-day event connected MEP leaders and manufacturers with experts and buyers from offshore wind.

Partnership: Rhode Island Commerce, MEP National Network, 401 Tech Bridge, Orsted, Business Network for Offshore Wind, and more.


Polaris MEP is proud to sponsor the Providence Business News Manufacturing Awards each year. This year we were surprised and delighted to also be recognized with an award!

Polaris MEP and the Community College of Rhode Island’s Division of Workforce Partnerships were jointly recognized for “Excellence in Collaboration in Manufacturing.” PBN lauded the partners for the way they work together and work closely with industry and business leaders to ensure they “are meeting both current and future workforce needs.”

Extension: Funding from Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training

Partnership: Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Department of Corrections


Polaris MEP workforce training among those RI Projects approved for funding through the 2023 federal spending billTwo Polaris MEP projects are among those that will receive funding through the 2023 federal spending bill.

The Center is slated for community project funding including $300,000 to launch a Skills Training and Mentorship Program and another $250,000 for Advanced Manufacturing Job Training.

Extension: Funding from bipartisan appropriations