‘Make It Happen’ action plan highlights industry opportunities

Maritime businesses, food production and industrial design rose to the top in an analysis of opportunities for growth in Rhode Island identified during the latest “Make It Happen RI” sessions hosted by the Rhode Island Foundation and the R.I. Commerce Corporation. More

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economic development

‘Make It Happen’ action plan highlights industry opportunities

COURTESY FOURTH ECONOMY
A REPORT PRODUCED by Fourth Economy Consulting for the Rhode Island Foundation and the R.I. Commerce Corporation summarized the input of more than 200 local business leaders during the fall 2013 "Make It Happen RI" sessions, establishing an action plan for economic development in the state. above, an infographic illustrates how different economic development initiatives can work together.
Posted 1/23/14

PROVIDENCE – Maritime businesses, food production and industrial design rose to the top in an analysis of opportunities for growth in Rhode Island identified during the latest “Make It Happen RI” sessions hosted by the Rhode Island Foundation and the R.I. Commerce Corporation.

In a report released Thursday, Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting boiled down input from more than 200 local business leaders during three rounds of meetings last fall into 21 ways the state can increase its competitive advantages, promote emerging opportunities, facilitate connectivity, build the business ecosystem and bolster the talent pipeline.

Those priorities from the private sector will help form the basis of the “RhodeMap RI” statewide planning exercise going on this year.

“Years of structural economic transformation will require more than short-term fixes or the pursuit of a ‘great single initiative,’ ” Fourth Economy wrote in the report’s executive summary. “This is not meant to diminish the ideas that many in the community have had; rather it is to reinforce that for Rhode Island to change its economic plight, it must embrace a broad-based action agenda that creates short-term momentum, while also building on a long-term economic infrastructure to generate sustainable change.”

Indeed, many if not most of the objectives in the report are initiatives that various groups in the state have been working on for some time.

They include increasing the impact of the tourism industry, supporting high-growth opportunities in academic technology transfer, accelerating growth in life sciences, protecting against environmental catastrophe and establishing a regional cybersecurity center.

But, reflecting the groups that coalesced over months of meetings, the recommendations emphasize manufacturing and design, the “food-value web,” and the “water-related economy.”

These include promoting access to water and marine-based businesses, creating a center for design and manufacturing, claiming Rhode Island as the center of the Maker Movement, strengthening the food-value web and enhancing small business support services for the “Food-Health Nexus.”

The report is scheduled to be discussed and presentations given by industry players Thursday at a 1:30 p.m. event at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

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