Job Creation: Rhode Island's Highest Priority
"My top priority is to get our economy back on track. That’s why I’m fighting hard to pass legislation that will put Rhode Islanders back to work and support the small businesses that employ them."
As our economy continues to recover from the worst recession in generations, my number one priority in the Senate remains fighting for programs that help to put Rhode Islanders back to work. From infrastructure investments that will upgrade our schools and roads, to policies that help Rhode Island manufacturers compete in the global marketplace, I am doing everything I can to help our economy and create jobs.
I regularly meet with Rhode Island families and business owners to discuss ways to help our Ocean State economy. I’ve taken their stories and ideas with me to Washington and have been fighting for legislation to continue the growth we have seen in the years since the financial crisis.
Here are a few of the efforts I’m currently working on to help grow jobs in Rhode Island and support the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy:
I have supported several bills to close tax loopholes that reward corporations for offshoring jobs. For example, I’m proud to have cosponsored the Brings Jobs Home Act, which would offer a significant tax incentive to companies that bring outsourced jobs back home to the United States. Also, I’ve authored the Offshoring Prevention Act and the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, legislation to close tax loopholes that rewards companies for moving factories overseas. Our tax code should be designed to help American companies create and maintain good-paying jobs in the United States, not ship them overseas.
Programs to Help the Unemployed
While Rhode Island’s job market has improved, not all Rhode Islanders have benefited from the economic recovery following the recession. I have long supported measures to extend unemployment benefits as well as to provide funding for programs to help those individuals get back to work. I am proud to have supported the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on July, 22, 2014. This important legislation will modernize and strengthen our workforce development programs to help Americans find and retain employment.
It makes no sense to allow our vital transportation infrastructure to continue deteriorating when our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. Road and bridge repairs can put Rhode Islanders to work and lay the foundation for future economic growth. That is why, as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I supported the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which provided Rhode Island with $231 million in federal investments for transportation projects in 2014 alone. I am also continuing to fight for a long-term, sustainable transportation bill that gives Rhode Islanders certainty in planning job-supporting infrastructure investments.
Rhode Island’s long-term economic security depends on jobs in the manufacturing and tourism industries, and new industries that will create jobs for future generations. Clean energy has the potential to be the next big industry and I’m working hard to make sure our Ocean State is at the forefront of the clean energy economy. I have helped make Quonset an assembly hub for wind turbines, and I’m fighting for important tax incentives and grant programs for renewable energy projects. I supported efforts by the Founders League and Social Greenhouse to fund for Rhode Island StartZone, a statewide program to help talented students and graduates from local colleges and universities start their own company or social enterprise in Rhode Island.
Promoting Composites and Textile Manufacturing
I have worked closely with leaders and government officials to bolster Rhode Island’s composites and textiles industries.
Historically, Rhode Island’s composites companies have focused on the marine trades. In recent years, our composites companies have expanded their applications beyond boat-building and into other industries including defense, aerospace, medical devices, and consumer products. My efforts working with the RI Marine Trades Association and the cluster of 35+ composites companies in the East Bay led to the creation of the Rhode Island Composites Alliance (RICA) in 2014. According to the American Composites Manufacturers Association, the composites industry is projected to grow by 6.5 percent annually through 2020. With RICA’s leadership, Rhode Island’s economy is poised to benefit from this growth.
Textile manufacturing has historically been vital to Rhode Island’s economy and identity. I have worked closely with industry leaders and state and federal entities to bolster the Rhode Island textile market, organizing industry roundtable discussions to identify opportunities and challenges, and connecting Rhode Island textile companies with Department of Defense procurement officials.
Here are a few things I've been proud to do to help create jobs in Rhode Island:
- Supported the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which Congress passed in 2011, providing tax credits for businesses that hire veterans and improving job training for our servicemembers.
- Helped secure a $22.3 million grant for the Quonset Development Corporation to develop alternative energy sources and alleviate highway congestion. This project was estimated to support 500 to 800 jobs.
- Helped secure a $2.5 million Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) DOL grant for the New England Institute of Technology to expand programs offered to unemployed Rhode Islanders through the Shipbuilding/Marine Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI).
- Helped secure $15 million in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help the state’s economy recover from the historic floods of 2010, including $5 million awarded to the East Providence Waterfront District Commission to renovate an existing manufacturing building to accommodate the relocation of Eaton Corporation, a critical manufacturer of components used in the aeronautics industry.
- Helped secure $21.7 million to improve broadband access in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, creating jobs in fields like network design, project management, and construction, while providing a foundation for future business growth.
- Helped secure $10.5 million in federal funding to create Rhode Island jobs and transform the Port of Providence into a modern marine cargo center that will diversify shipping options in the region.
- Helped pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, legislation that saved or created 12,000 jobs in Rhode Island through projects such as health information technology upgrades at the Rhode Island Quality Institute; grants to Narragansett Bay shipyards; and education and job training in green construction, hospitality, finance and other high-growth industries.
- Successfully pushed for extension of small business research and development grants. Since 1983, Rhode Island businesses have received over 545 such awards totaling more than $150 million.
- Helped secure a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the Apponaug Circulator Long-Term Improvements Project in Warwick. This grant helped create important construction jobs and will ensure the reliability of our infrastructure for years to come.
- Helped secure a $2.9 million EDA grant for RI Department of Environmental Management to work on infrastructure at Port of Galilee in Narragansett.
- Helped secure a $1.7 million EDA grant for the development of the Newport TechWorks Innovation Center, a proposed technology business incubator and accelerator.
Your Ideas: Share Your Thoughts & Ideas on Job Creation
I'm fighting hard for legislation that will improve our economy and keep jobs in Rhode Island... legislation that came from listening to Rhode Islanders.
I'd like to hear from you, too. Are there policies that you believe would improve our economy?
Share your thoughts and ideas.