Provost Rosanne Somerson 76 ID participated in a panel discussion yesterday, hosted by the Rhode Island Congressional delegation - Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Representatives James Langevin and David Cicilline - and moderated by Deputy Asst. Sec. Matt Erskine of the US Economic Development Administration (EDA), part of US Department of Commerce. Mr. Erskine was in town for a day-long visit and tour of Rhode Island.
The session was intended to inform government, business and other associated leaders about the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). It touched on all aspects of manufacturing: from productivity challenges, to training the future labor force, to managing supply chain and logistics, to remaining globally competitive.
Somerson helped make the case that with its historical ties to the manufacturing industry, artists and designers in Rhode Island can play an important role in both product and process innovation. She emphasized RISD’s role in rethinking and revitalizing our existing manufacturing infrastructure — and in helping Rhode Island to lead in entirely new industries. While Somerson was the lone representative from the creative fields, many of the other participants reinforced RISD’s role as a key competitive differentiator for the state.
Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation led a multi-organization/business consortium that delivered a proposal to the US Economic Development Administration to establish a “RI Design & Manufacturing Center”. This planning grant, if awarded, would provide $200,000 to implement this initiative and allow the State to establish the center envisioned to support a resurgence in Rhode Island manufacturing.