Published 10/31/11

Growing exports and jobs

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (Oct. 31, 2011) -- Rhode Island state leaders today announced plans to use the $496,066 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program grant received by the State of Rhode Island to grow exports and jobs in the Ocean State.

Taking part in the announcement were U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) Executive Director Keith Stokes, R.I. Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, SBA R.I. District Director Mark Hayward, Bryant University Vice President for Academic Affairs José-Marie Griffiths, and Raymond Fogarty, director of Bryant's Chafee Center for International Business.

The Chafee Center is providing a range of services to R.I. businesses interested in taking part in the STEP grant.

The STEP program was established by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and will provide $30 million in grants to states to help small and medium-sized businesses identify new export opportunities.  RIEDC worked with the Chafee Center  to complete and submit Rhode Island's application for STEP funding which was completed in May. The Chafee Center will receive the STEP funds from the U.S. SBA and will be responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the program. The Chafee Center also serves as the State Trade Director for Rhode Island.

The Chafee Center will provide a range of services to any Rhode Island business interested in exporting. The program is expected to be especially valuable for companies that have some export experience and want to explore new markets. Working with the RIEDC, the Chafee Center team will take companies through a comprehensive export readiness assessment process, provide one-on-one counseling, and offer a menu of training, trade missions and trade shows to help companies move along the path to new export opportunities.

Statements from state leaders, others regarding R.I. STEP program

"The Chafee Center has an experienced-based and very well thought out plan to help Rhode Island businesses. The STEP grant funding will immediately increase business opportunities for Rhode Island manufacturing and service companies that seek to expand their marketing, development, or distribution efforts internationally." - R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee

"The National Export Initiative will strengthen the nation's economy by increasing U.S. exports. Sharing responsibilities and resources between the federal government and the states will help small exporters expand and bring more small businesses into the global market." - SBA Regional Administrator Jeanne Hulit

"While small businesses account for more than 30 percent of U.S. exports, most small businesses have grown and succeeded by selling to domestic markets. Small companies have products and services to export, but they lack sufficient resources to pursue global opportunities. The STEP program provides those resources. It is a great way for Rhode Island to grow its exports and its employment." - U.S. Sen. Jack Reed

"Small businesses are the engine of the Rhode Island economy, and we must make sure they have the support they need to grow and create jobs. This STEP grant will give our small businesses new tools to compete in the global market." - U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

"Quality jobs are our top priority and exports create well-paying, long-lasting jobs. By helping our small manufacturing and service companies compete globally in emerging industries with the most potential for growth, we will create more quality job opportunities for Rhode Island." - U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin

"The half-million-dollar STEP grant is an investment that will pay major dividends for Rhode Island's small businesses and for our state. It puts an immediate and urgent focus on exports as a key way for our small firms to grow, create jobs, and advance our state's economic recovery and ability to compete." - U.S. Rep. David Cicilline

"Increasing exports is a proven path to job growth. The STEP program will help any R.I. business that is interested in exporting. It will be especially valuable for companies that have some exporting experience and want to explore new markets. The Chafee Center team, in partnership with RIEDC, will take companies through a comprehensive readiness assessment process, provide one-on-one counseling, and offer a menu of training, trade missions and trade shows to help companies move along the path to new export opportunities." - RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes

"This program will help to reduce unemployment while creating well-paying, long-term economic and employment opportunities. It is a win-win for the State of Rhode Island." - R.I. Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed

"The grant of nearly $500,000 is a solid return on the business development funds we invest at RIEDC and the Chafee Center." - R.I. House Speaker Gordon D. Fox

"Since 1988, the Chafee Center has provided comprehensive international trade services for businesses to expand into international markets. Combining business and public resources with the academic talents of our faculty and experiential learning for our students creates a dynamic environment for serving Rhode Island businesses." - Bryant University Vice President for Academic Affairs José-Marie Griffiths

Facts about Rhode Island and exporting, from the Chafee Center

  • Rhode Island's top current export markets are Canada, Mexico, Germany, Turkey and China, and 20 additional countries where Rhode Island firms have sufficient exports to warrant closer examination for additional exports.
  •  The Ocean State ranked 14th among the 50 states through the first seven months of 2011 in export growth. Its overseas sales increased by an annual rate of 24.4 percent, seasonally adjusted.
  •  Leading export markets for Rhode Island include medical technology, metal manufacturing, computer and software technology, plastics, textiles, energy and infrastructure.