Rhode Island is enjoying a mini-boom in exports but, as is often the case with even the best economic news in the Ocean State, there is plenty of room for more.
The $2.3 billion value of such goods in 2011 is a whopping 53 percent increase over two years. But Rhode Island still has a long way to go to catch up with its New England neighbors, who all export significantly more. Yes, Rhode Island is smaller but Vermont, with 425,000 fewer residents, exported $4.3 billion in goods last year.
So how can Rhode Island catch up? More state-sponsored trade missions like the one to Israel in November would help. The trip was a huge success for most of the 11 firms that went, according to participants. And more trade missions are planned.
But, in truth, the responsibility lies with businesses that have not yet aggressively explored these foreign markets or the resources available to help them, including the Chafee Center for International Business/World Trade Center Rhode Island at Bryant University.
In difficult economic times there can be comfort in sticking with the familiar. But moving beyond survival mode requires taking measured risks.
The numbers suggest looking beyond local borders for new customers can be a profitable place to start. •