Rhode Island faced a sluggish economy in recent decades, challenged by low economic growth and high unemployment. Taking office in early 2015 amid this challenge, Governor Gina Raimondo made economic growth and job creation priorities for her administration. There was an urgent need to define priority growth engines, and high-impact activities that would help drive Rhode Island’s economic development.
Strong industry clusters acting as leading drivers of innovation were identified by the state. Rhode Island’s dominant clusters reflect historic strengths in naval defense, education, manufacturing, and corporate offices, with naval defense and corporate offices showing the most recent share growth. Emphasis was placed on the growth of submarines and underwater related technologies that could act as a growth catalyst through the value chain. By becoming a hub for such emerging technologies, RI could bolster and diversify the private sector and drive growth in the STEM and Small and Mid-sized Enterprise (SME) ecosystem. High quality, fast cycle, higher margin manufacturing were also identified as potential new growth engines. Targeted opportunities in these sectors can lead to sizeable job growth. This influx of talent will likely, in turn, start, attract, retain, and grow companies.