US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin have unveiled a $125,000 federal grant to develop a composites industry cluster that will support job creation and economic growth in Rhode Island, US.
The grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) was awarded to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) and the town of Bristol to develop a strategic plan to maximise the competitiveness of the local composites industry, with a focus on Bristol and surrounding communities in the East Bay.
“This federal grant is another positive step toward growing this innovative manufacturing sector in Rhode Island,” said Reed. “It will help the state’s composites industry coordinate economic development initiatives and create more good-paying jobs here at home.”
“Rhode Island-made composites are well-suited to meet the need for light, durable materials in infrastructure, aerospace, defence, and wind energy,” added Whitehouse, who has brought several EDA officials to Rhode Island in recent years for meetings with composites stakeholders. “Our local composites industry has all the elements to keep growing and hiring more Rhode Islanders in the years ahead. This federal grant will harness those components into a strategic plan for expanding advanced manufacturing in the East Bay.”
The East Bay is home to more than 45 composites companies with a range of expertise in manufacturing, design and engineering. These companies are supported by nearby educational institutions like IYRS, which delivers industry-specific curriculum and training in composites, as well as research and development.
“Rhode Island was once a hub for manufacturing, and reviving this critical sector is becoming more of a reality with the help of EDA grants like this one,” Langevin said. “The creation of a Composites Innovation Cluster would add to the state’s growing manufacturing base, and funding from this grant will enable the Town of Bristol and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association to develop a strategic plan to expand the composites industry and further economic growth.”
The federal grant was matched by funding from the Rhode Island Foundation and $25,000 from the Real Jobs Rhode Island programme.
The planning process will bring together the public and private sectors to examine the area’s resources, including infrastructure, workforce development programmes, and manufacturing expertise, to develop an economic development roadmap for local composites manufacturing.
“Partnership is the key to building a strong foundation for economic growth,” said Wendy Mackie, CEO of RIMTA and the Rhode Island Composites Alliance. “The Composites Alliance is proud to work with this public-private partnership to position Rhode Island’s composites industry as a worldwide leader.”
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