2017 – 2018

Rhode Island Manufacturing B2B Comparison

Polaris MEP and the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA) were happy to put on the 2nd annual RI Manufacturing Business to Business trade show (RIMFGB2B). This trade show was designed to spark supply chain business between local manufacturers, but we have taken the opportunity to ask employers for their top business needs. The data helps inform our programs as well as state initiatives, and now demonstrates trends as these employers’ needs adjust to general economy and their own businesses evolve. Below are the themes that have been exposed over the past two years as the manufacturing environment has flourished in a strong economy.


Comparison Takeaways


Small Manufacturers

Fewer than 20 employees

small manufacturing comparison takeaway

The growth that small manufacturers gained in 2017 turned into the need for talent in 2018.

Medium Manufacturers

21 – 50 employees

medium manufacturing comparison takeaway

In 2018 medium manufacturers are seeking additional funds for New Product Development and Growth.

Large Manufacturers

More than 20 employees

large manufacturing comparison takeaway

Large manufacturers focused on building talent in 2017, and again in 2018. As a result, their operational needs have become more focused on setting up new systems and processes.

All Manufacturers

The overall shift in talent has gone from:

all manufacturing comparison takeaway

needing to hire employees in 2017, to needing training for employees in 2018.

Snapshot Comparison


Small Manufacturers

Fewer than 20 employees

It’s not surprising that small company priorities have shifted from growth needs to talent needs from 2017 to 2018. These companies have seen their overall business increase and are now challenged to deliver product, requiring additional resources. The increased business is a great problem to have, but low unemployment rate creates difficulty filling new positions. These companies need new employees as well and incumbent worker training to up-skill their staff to become more proficient.


Medium Manufacturers

21 – 50 employees

Medium-sized manufacturers have realized an increase in their business which is reflected in the drop in growth needs. They have better operationalized the increases and many of them are trying to transform their organizations to the next level. Leveraging their strong business to make a transformation is seen through the higher priority of Product Development. Many of the companies we engage with are looking for capital and intellectual property to launch new products or enter new markets.



Large Manufacturers

Over 50 employees

Larger-sized manufacturer needs have not changed dramatically from 2017 to 2018. While their business has also increased, their top needs remains new hires and incumbent worker training. The size and capabilities of these companies can more easily absorb the business increases we have seen over the past two years, but priority shift from growth to operations reflects the needs to better execute the newly landed and future business opportunities.



Created by Polaris MEP, with support from the U.S. Office of Economic Adjustment, Commerce RI, and RIMA.

Polaris MEP, RI Commerce, RIMA logos