Out like a Lion

Well that was pretty incredible…  We’ve had some busy months since I started at Polaris MEP nearly 3 years ago, but nothing like March 2017!

Sure, September of 2015 was packed with the launch of the Rocket Program, our first All Access Bus Tour of Westrock and Spectrum Thermal, and one or two workshops, but March 2017 takes the cake!

Along with RIMA and Buy Local RI , and made possible by Commerce RI, we were able to pull off one of the largest (yet) RI Manufacturing focused trade shows. Thanks in part to a connection with RIPTAC’s DOD Matchmaker event, we hadover 400 attendees from over 250 companies from 15 states. 

We are excited to publish the information that we collected from the data request board so keep an eye out for that soon. Read more


Bullish on Rhody innovation

In August, Scott Jensen, director of the R.I. Department of Labor & Training, called manufacturing a “bright spot” in the state economy. Jensen and Donna Murray, Rhode Island’s chief labor statistician, noted that 42,300 manufacturing jobs in July were the most in the sector since March 2009. This is due not only to the resiliency of our legacy manufacturers, but also largely to the focus on advanced manufacturing as an industry, which benefits from innovation programs throughout the state. Read more


Momentum in Manufacturing

Do you feel the rising energy in Rhode Island’s manufacturing community these days? It springs from a quiet confidence that companies have about their future based on projected or recently won contracts.

Even though these good signs haven’t hit the state or federal metrics yet, they are real. A great example is Yushin America, in Cranston, which makes robots to improve other companies’ manufacturing facilities. They recently opened a $2 million expansion. Other companies, including Edesia in North Kingstown, consolidated operations to move into a larger facility and increased their production capabilities.

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Manufacturing in R.I., Chapter 6: Manufacturing Defense Growth

Manufacturing has taken a positive turn with signals that orders and production are poised to continue the trend upward. Small and large companies are ramping up hiring, training and operations activity, while support from the new state administration has also been positive.

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Manufacturing in R.I., Chapter 5: Makers Bring Energy to Manufacturing

We have retooled Rhode Island’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership center this year. Polaris MEP is poised and ready to better support smaller manufacturing companies in the state. Ninety-five percent of the state’s 1,600 manufacturers have fewer than 100 employees, and 74 percent of them have fewer than 50 employees. That is small.

But there is another category of manufacturers that have a strong influence and impact on our environment. What about the “tinkerers” and the “makers”? Are they manufacturers? Will they grow up into manufacturing companies? Will they inject life into manufacturing companies that need it? Or is this a passing fad made up of hippies?

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Manufacturing in R.I., Chapter 4: Toward a Flatter Future

Tom Friedman, author of “The World is Flat,” told us in 2005 about a fast-moving economic platform, accelerated by information technology advances, which created an environment in which it’s easy to source talent and do business globally.

That is great, right? But really, what does it all mean?

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Manufacturing in R.I., Chapter 3: Education System Influence

The Rhode Island manufacturing environment is alive and strong. We already have looked at the current economy and support mechanisms that are helping the health of that environment.

But what about the educational system support for manufacturers in the state? We already know the manufacturing landscape has changed from the dark, dreary and dangerous to a clean and technologically advanced environment, and that more training is needed than in our grandfather’s day.

There are three main areas to consider when discussing the educational support system for manufacturing – K-12, including vocational high schools; post-secondary schools, including community colleges, technical colleges, colleges and universities; and apprenticeship and certification programs. Read more


Manufacturing in R.I., Chapter 2: Support Infrastructure

In the first installment of this series on manufacturing in Rhode Island, we talked about innovation, growth and new job creation – all byproducts of a healthy manufacturing environment, one which has changed from mass production to mass customization. Today I’ll describe the support infrastructure that has fueled this transformation, and is poised to support continuing growth.

There are four types of support systems for manufacturers in the state. Read more


Manufacturing in R.I. – Chapter 1: Doing it Better

Manufacturing has changed greatly in the past 20 years in Rhode Island. We’ve moved from a mass- production environment to a mass-customization environment and many facets of this transformation are now critical to the region’s economic vitality. Let’s take a look at how local and global influences have had an impact on the Ocean State and how the state can move forward based on what can be learned from its recent experience.

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