Job Creation: Rhode Island’s Highest Priority 

Rhode Islanders are experiencing economic anxieties the likes of which we have not seen in a generation. Once a manufacturing capital, Rhode Island has lost thousands of well-paying industrial jobs in recent years.

By the time Bush administration left office in January 2009, we were on a crash course to a full-on depression…losing jobs at a rate of 700,000 per month.

Since then, Congress has passed legislation that has supported 2.7 million to 3.7 million jobs, including 12,000 in Rhode Island.  Paired with the Small Business Jobs Act and other legislation designed to create jobs, the economy avoided a catastrophic fate.

But we need to do more.  Please read on to find out what I’m doing to help put Rhode Island back to work and share your ideas about how to improve Rhode Island’s economy.
How Sheldon’s Fighting to Create Jobs in Rhode Island Today
I have been traveling across Rhode Island, meeting with local manufacturers, listening to their frustrations, and discussing ideas to help their businesses grow and bring more jobs to Rhode Island.

During these visits, I have heard one theme over and over: Unfair foreign competition is killing domestic manufacturing.

And unfortunately, some government policies are actually helping foreign competition.  It’s time to bring those policies to an end and create policies that get our economy back on track.

Here are a few of the different efforts I’m working on in 2011 to help bring jobs to Rhode Island and support the businesses that are already here:

  • End Tax Breaks Companies Currently Receive When They Ship Jobs Overseas

I introduced the Offshoring Preventions Act (OPA) in January, which will close a tax loophole that actually rewards companies for moving factories overseas. Under current law, an American company with a factory in China can delay paying income tax on the profits made through the Chinese subsidiary. American companies don’t have this benefit.  The OPA will help level the playing field for American manufactures by ending that offshoring benefit. Specifically, it would prohibit companies from deferring income tax payment on profits made from goods produced overseas and sold to American consumers.

  • Stop China’s Currency Manipulation so American Manufacturers Can Compete Again

The Chinese government’s currency manipulation floods our market with inexpensive Chinese goods while making American products costly for Chinese consumers. I support legislation that would permit the United States to impose trade sanctions on countries like China that artificially control their currency valuation.

  • Increase Support for Successful Small Business Strategy & Innovation Programs

I have long supported the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP), a partnership between the states and the federal government that provides small manufacturers with technical and business consulting services. I was pleased to see that President Obama’s proposed FY 2012 budget called for an increase in MEP funding. The people of Rhode Island can count on me to continue to champion robust funding for this important program and RIMES, its Rhode Island affiliate.

  • Create a Bankruptcy Reorganization Option that Permits Small Business Owners to Maintain Ownership and Preserve Jobs

Current bankruptcy law makes it difficult for small businesses to successfully reorganize in bankruptcy. In 2010, I introduced the Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, which would save jobs by helping small businesses keep their doors open.  Specifically, the bill would create an alternative to Chapter 11, permitting small businesses to reorganize more efficiently and small business owners to maintain equity in their companies.  I am committed to working on this this bill in 2011 to make sure these important changes go into effect.

  • Restore Measures that Help Small Businesses Obtain Capital

In an effort to give small businesses easier access to credit, the Recovery Act temporarily waived borrower and lender fees for the Small Business Administration’s most popular loan programs. I believe that we must restore those fee waivers to ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to grow and create jobs.

I’m fighting hard for legislation that will improve our economy and keep jobs in Rhode Island.  Please read on to learn about previous successful job creation efforts and to share your ideas on how to move our economy forward.

Successful Job Creation Efforts
While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are a few things I’ve been proud to do on behalf of Rhode Islanders and Job Creation:

  • Helped pass legislation in 2009 which saved or created 12,000 jobs in Rhode Island, and provided a refundable tax credit up to $1,000 for 470,000 Rhode Island workers and their families.

    • Rhode Island Example: Quonset Development Corporation received $22.3 million to help create green jobs, develop alternative energy sources, and alleviate highway congestion.  Quonset estimated that the money would create between 500 and 800 jobs.
    • Rhode Island Example: Rhode Island’s Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and Administrative Network (OSHEAN) received $21.7 million to improve broadband access that will benefit 8,000 businesses and 830,000 people.  It will create 200 jobs in fields like construction, project management, and network design, while providing a foundation for future business growth.
    • Rhode Island Example:  Thanks to a $3.72 million grant, Providence Plan’s Building Futures program will provide green jobs training for about 1,600 Rhode Islanders.
  • Helped secure $10.5 million in federal funding, via the TIGER II program, to create more than 550 Rhode Island jobs and transform the Port of Providence into a modern marine cargo center that will diversify shipping options in the region. 

  • Successfully fought for an extension of legislation that supported 20,000 jobs nationwide in the solar industry.  Section 1603 of the Recovery Act gave programs direct cash grants to create jobs, rather than tax credits.  It is estimated that this legislation led to 25% of all wind power capacity installed in the United States in 2009.  This resulted in 51,600 short-term full-time equivalent construction jobs and 3,860 long-term jobs across the United States. This legislation was set to expire in 2010, but I worked to extend it through December 2011.

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 job creators.

I’d like to hear from you, too.

Are there policies that you believe would improve Rhode Island’s economy?

Please click here to share your thoughts and ideas with me.