PROVIDENCE – One week to the day after the Senate Commerce Committee advanced his Make it in America Manufacturing Communities Act, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline toured Goodwin-Bradley’s manufacturing facility with Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Director Christian Cowan to outline how his proposal will reinvigorate Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry and create good-paying jobs for hardworking Rhode Islanders.
“Rhode Island is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Manufacturing is written into our DNA. These kinds of good-paying jobs built our middle class in the 20th century, and they can do so again. It’s time we reignite Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. Let’s give hardworking Rhode Islanders a chance not just to get by, but to get ahead,” said Cicilline. “I’m excited that the Make it in America Manufacturing Communities Act is moving to the Senate floor. This bill will benefit families across our state and get our economy moving again. When Congress returns to Washington, I’m going to keep fighting until this bill becomes law.”
Under the legislation introduced by Cicilline, Rhode Island will bring together at least one institution of higher education, one private sector entity, and one government entity, as well as other key stakeholders, to apply for a manufacturing community designation. This designation, which Rhode Island is well-positioned to receive given its inherent strengths in manufacturing, will give the state a head start when applying for federal economic development assistance.
In order to earn the Manufacturing Communities designation, Rhode Island will have to demonstrate the significance of manufacturing in its region and develop strategies for investments in six key areas:
· Workforce training and retraining;
· Advanced research;
· Infrastructure and site development;
· Supply chain support;
· Promotion of exports and foreign direct investment; and
· Operational improvement and capital access for manufacturers that supports energy or process efficiency, equipment or facility upgrades, the development of business incubators, among other activities.
"Federal trade and tax policies have encouraged business to source products offshore undermining manufacturing businesses in Rhode Island and the country,” said Robert Goodwin, President of Goodwin-Bradley, Co. “I am glad that the Congressman is working on legislation that will make the federal government work for Rhode Islanders.”
During his first campaign for Congress in 2010, Cicilline proposed establishing a Make it in America Block Grant to provide resources for American companies to retool their facilities and retrain workers to compete in a 21st century economy. He later introduced the proposal during his first term in office along with 50 Democratic co-sponsors. During his second term, Cicilline reintroduced the proposal with Democratic co-sponsors in the House and U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) introducing a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
During Cicilline’s third term, after President Obama included several elements of his proposal in the White House’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), the legislation was reintroduced as a bipartisan measure in both the House and Senate. The legislation that is pending today will make the IMCP initiative permanent, ensuring that the Trump White House cannot unilaterally eliminate it.
“We’ve worked with hundreds of companies across Rhode Island and helped manufacturers grow and expand their businesses” said Cowan. “This legislation will help Rhode Island companies innovate and become more competitive in the next generation of manufacturing. Rhode Island manufacturers are looking for facilities and programs to create more jobs, and the IMCP designation will make it easier for them to access the resources they need to get ahead.”
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Rhode Island was a leader of American manufacturing. 127,000 Rhode Islanders held factory jobs by the late 1960s. In recent years, however, bad trade deals and a failure to support working families reduced the number of manufacturing jobs to fewer than 42,000 by 2015.
Goodwin-Bradley is a family-owned manufacturer based in Providence. Over the course of its 105 year history, the company has participated in several landmark projects, including the Model T Engine, the Wasp Engine, and the first atomic submarine. Today, Goodwin-Bradley produces complex aerospace rubber seals, as well as tooling for forming and metal parts. After collaborating with Polaris MEP to obtain new certification for their work, Goodwin-Bradley has generated $450,000 in increased and retained sales, expanded its workforce by 25%, and invested $400,000 in new equipment.
Polaris MEP is a Rhode Island non-profit that helps local manufacturing companies improve their competitiveness. As an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), Polaris has assisted more than 750 Rhode Island companies over the last two decades.