The grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) was awarded to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) and the town of Bristol to develop a strategic plan to maximize the competitiveness of the local composites industry, with a focus on Bristol and surrounding communities in the East Bay.
“This federal grant is another positive step toward growing this innovative manufacturing sector in Rhode Island. It will help the state’s composites industry coordinate economic development initiatives and create more good-paying jobs here at home,” said Senator Reed.
“Rhode Island-made composites are well-suited to meet the need for light, durable materials in infrastructure, aerospace, defense, and wind energy,” said Senator Whitehouse, who has brought several EDA officials to Rhode Island in recent years for meetings with composites stakeholders.
“Our local composites industry has all the elements to keep growing and hiring more Rhode Islanders in the years ahead. This federal grant will harness those components into a strategic plan for expanding advanced manufacturing in the East Bay.”
The East Bay is home to more than 45 composites companies with a broad range of expertise in manufacturing, design, and engineering. These companies are supported by nearby educational institutions like IYRS, which deliver industry-specific curriculum and training in composites, as well as research and development.
“Rhode Island was once a hub for manufacturing, and reviving this critical sector is becoming more of a reality with the help of EDA grants like this one,” Congressman Langevin said. “The creation of a Composites Innovation Cluster would add to the state’s growing manufacturing base, and funding from this grant will enable the Town of Bristol and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association to develop a strategic plan to expand the composites industry and further economic growth.”
The federal grant was matched by funding from the Rhode Island Foundation and $25,000 from the Real Jobs Rhode Island program.
The planning process will bring together the public and private sectors to examine the area’s resources, including infrastructure, workforce development programs, and manufacturing expertise, to develop an economic development roadmap for local composites manufacturing.
“We are excited to partner with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island in support of local business owners and entrepreneurs through this US EDA project to develop a composites innovation cluster,” said Steven Contente, Bristol Town Administrator. “The Town of Bristol has a long history of innovative, leading edge manufacturing, and that spirit is still evident today. We look forward to providing assistance through this project to ensure a healthy environment for the composites industry to grow and thrive.”
“Partnership is the key to building a strong foundation for economic growth. The Composites Alliance is proud to work with this public-private partnership to position Rhode Island’s composites industry as a world-wide leader,” said Wendy Mackie, CEO of RIMTA and the Rhode Island Composites Alliance.