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IndustryNet Blog

Rhode Island manufacturing is growing fast. Here's why.

Posted by IndustryNet on Friday, March 15, 2019

100000356_Manufacturing_shopfloor_techAccording to new data compiled by MNI, publisher of the U.S. industrial data that powers IndustryNet, Rhode Island manufacturing employment edged up over the past year. 

Jobs gains were overwhelmingly led by the state’s transportation equipment industry, though some other key sector experienced positive growth as well. Some of Rhode Island’s smaller manufacturing sectors such as primary metals and paper products, did not fare as well.

A number of new and expanding manufacturing facilities were announced over the year as well, laying the groundwork for future growth in the state. In this article we'll explore some of the key growth trends for the state and take a look at why Rhode Island is becoming a top destination for manufacturers.

Rhode Island manufacturing: the year in review

Rhode Island is currently home to 1,509 manufacturers that employ 57,385 workers. The state added 789 jobs in 2018, representing a gain of 1.4%.

Employment in the state’s transportation equipment sector surged by 14%, helped by expanded hiring at General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown. Transportation equipment now accounts for the most industrial jobs in the state, employing 6,282.

MNI data recorded robust gains in electronics (+7.6%); rubber plastics (+4.5%) and stone/clay/glass (+2.3%). Sectors such as fabricated metals; miscellaneous manufacturing and instruments/related products posted more modest gains.

These gains stand in stark contrast to employment in the state’s paper products industry, which plummeted 22% and primary metals, which fell 13%, though these industries generally employ a smaller share of Rhode Island workers.

MNI’s city data shows North Kingstown accounts for the most industrial jobs in the state, with 7,688 workers, up 7% in the past year. Second-ranked Providence accounts for 6,234 jobs, with no significant change reported, while jobs fell 9% in third-ranked Pawtucket to a current level of 5,788.

Cranston jobs also fell 5%, to 4,803, while Warwick jobs remained steady over the year, ranking fifth with 4,197 jobs.

Why Rhode Island is attractive to manufacturers

Rhode Island has struggled to bounce back from the recession, with current job levels falling far short of the 67,000 industrial jobs recorded in 2008, just prior to the recession. High business costs, aging infrastructure, and limited capital funding continued to put a dent in Rhode Island’s manufacturing growth.

But as industrial production grew more high-tech, states like Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts became more and more appealing for manufacturers, drawn by these states’ highly-educated workforce and a variety of competitive incentive packages.

The state offers an innovation voucher program, for instance, to help offset R&D costs associated with innovative enterprises, as well as industry cluster grants and science and technology grants.

Reebok, which established a one-of-a-kind 3-D printing shoe facility in the state, has finally started up production, using its “liquid factory” technique to “draw” its running shoes in three-dimensions.

In another example of the state’s stronghold in innovation and tech, Amgen recently announced plans to establish its first next-generation biomanufacturing plant in West Greenwich.

In addition, Finlay’s Extracts & Ingredients USA opened a R&D and manufacturing facility at the Quonset Business Park, which will help spur development of its coffee and tea ingredients.

Meanwhile, Infinity Meat Solutions broke ground on a new packaging facility in North Kingstown with plans to eventually hire 700. Rubius Theraputics broke ground on a new pharmaceutical facility in Smithfield.

Rhode Island manufacturing: By the Numbers

Rhode Island’s 1,509 manufacturers employ 57,385 workers. Here is a further breakdown of the numbers:

Top Rhode Island Manufacturing Industries by Number of Jobs




Top Rhode Island Cities by Number of Jobs

Providence - 7,639
North Kingstown - 7,368
Pawtucket - 6,731
Cranston - 6,038
Warwick - 5,215

Top Rhode Island Counties by number of jobs

Providence - 40,575
Washington - 11,326
Kent - 9,446
Newport - 3,754
Bristol - 1,789


About this data:

MNI’s extensive manufacturing data powers IndustryNet, an industrial marketplace that connects buyers with suppliers. MNI’s team of more than 80 researchers scours hundreds of sources on-and-offline to zero in on every manufacturer in the U.S. Each manufacturer is contacted multiple times annually to ensure its information remains up-to-date and complete.

IndustryNet allows users to search and source more than ten thousand types of products, parts, supplies, and services for free. IndustryNet® lists every U.S. manufacturer plus thousands of wholesalers & distributors and industrial service providers.

To connect with industrial suppliers in Rhode Island and across the U.S. start your free search on IndustryNet. Or, to access detailed profiles of Rhode Island’s 1,500 industrial companies and their 4,603 executives, learn more about MNI’s IndustrySelect database subscription.




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