Rhode Island Economic Development Strategy
In the fall of 2012, Fourth Economy was retained by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) to conduct an analysis of the state’s strengths and weaknesses related to industry clusters and business climate. Rhode Island clusters were compared along a number of quantitative and qualitative factors.
The analysis also identified market opportunities based on the intersections between strong clusters. The final report, EconomyRI, included an analysis of the business climate, financial resources, regulatory environment, economic development marketing resources, and industry clusters.
RIEDC, now Commerce RI, along with the Rhode Island Foundation, then reengaged Fourth Economy to ensure that the ideas and insights of industry stakeholders were incorporated. Fourth Economy facilitated a series o “Economic Intersections” working groups that brought together 200 industry stakeholders from complementary sectors to identify emerging market opportunities. Fourth Economy worked with stakeholders to define specific actions that could be undertaken to capture those opportunities.
These two engagements culminated in the creation of a strategic plan for Commerce RI and provided the basis for the state’s CEDS.
One initiative that emerged from this strategy was better aligning the state’s manufacturers with their design talent. Fourth Economy supported the development of STEAM ENGINE USA, now known as the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge Program. Fourth Economy raised over $3 million in grant funding to develop and pilot the program. 125 companies have completed a Design Readiness Assessment through that process. This work laid the groundwork for a partnership with the Office of Naval Research on an industry matchmaking program.