The Manufacturing Melting Pot

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by | Apr 11, 2022

Polaris MEP Center Director Kathie Mahoney speaking at a Rep Cicilline press eventI remember the old Schoolhouse Rock shorts that used to come on TV Saturday mornings.

You might know them too — “I’m just a bill” and “Conjunction Junction.”

One of my favorites was “The Great American Melting Pot.”

Since moving to Rhode Island I kept hearing about how Italian this state is. Yes, RI does have a greater percentage of citizens claiming Italian-American heritage than any other state – 19%! But another 18% claim Irish ancestry, like I do.

9% of Ocean Staters have Portuguese heritage (bem vindo!) and 2% Cape Verdean (oi!). 3% report their ancestry as Subsaharan African.

Since 2010 Rhode Island’s Latino or Hispanic population increased by 40% and the numbers identifying as Asian-American by 28%. In fact, Providence is one of the top 10 US metropolitan areas by Cambodian population.

There are also 5% of RI residents who report their ancestry as French-Canadian. Most of their great-great grandparents probably came to work in the mills of Woonsocket or Pawtucket. The list goes on.

Whether you call it a “melting pot” or a mosaic, Rhode Island residents and the RI manufacturing sector have many unique identities within a small space.

Diverse Types of Manufacturing; Common Needs & Goals

A small state, RI manufactures a BIG variety of goodsThe Polaris MEP team has been continuing work on our upcoming “State of RI Manufacturing” report. One data point that jumps out is that we’ve got a wide variety of manufacturing industries in our little state.

Manufacturing melting pot!

Whether you’re in ship building or jewelry, making food or metal fabrication, you most likely have similar challenges & needs.

In April, we’re offering strategies and solutions for each of these common goals:

  1. Recruit qualified workersParticipate in the April 27 Workforce Solutions (Providence/Cranston) Job Fair
  2. Keep the skilled workers you have — RSVP for our April 12 webinar, “Strategies & Funding to Develop and Retain Employees in a Tight Labor Market”
  3. Find new marketsdiscover the “Essentials of Exporting”
  4. Become more competitivelearn the benefits of new 3D scanning technology on April 20 or schedule a complimentary automation readiness assessment

Where do you feature in our great Rhode Island manufacturing melting pot?

I’d love to learn about your company’s history and how we might help you make a stronger future. Email me at and we can schedule a visit.

P.S. The photo of me above was taken at a recent press event at Nautilus Defense, highlighting the importance of the Made In America Manufacturing Communities Act sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline.

The legislation is designed to make it easier for resources to melt … er, I mean connect and together grow the sector.

Self-reported ancestry data via Statistical Atlas.

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