ARLENE VIOLET - Taveras, Raimondo outline job creation ideas

ARLENE VIOLET - Taveras, Raimondo outline job creation ideas

Last week Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo each issued a jobs plan. What both of them had in common was the focus on state colleges, particularly the community college (Taveras) and the need for businesses to be engaged with higher learning.

Mr. Taveras wants to have employers work with the community college to create and implement a curriculum that mirrors the needs of that corporation or group of small businesses. Raimondo's proposal is more mature in that she urges more interaction between businesses and colleges through a Rhode Island Innovation Institute in a panoply of areas. Fortunately, she read the January 2014 report done under the auspices of Commerce RI and the Rhode Island Foundation. This blueprint is a superior piece of analysis.

What is mystifying is that since 1978, various permutations of the state's economic development arm have all issued job creation reports that are remarkably similar on what needs to be done. Candidate after candidate pipe-dreams proposals without ever looking at them, so it was refreshing to see Ms. Raimondo adopt much of the content of the most recent ideation. She took a few broadsides from those critical of her manufacturing initiative, probably because she didn't explain it too clearly, yet she is correct. As outlined in the January 2014 report, which was vetted by more than 200 business leaders, manufacturing growth is not about making buggy whips, but in wedding the design capabilities of such places like the Rhode Island School of Design, the world leader in design, with the prototyping, for example, of packaging, reinvention of products and cutting edge manufacturing of new products.

Ms. Raimondo hit upon the untapped potential in new fields like food sciences, marine technologies and health sciences, all exactly the proposals in the January report. The Ocean State is uniquely poised for a marine-based renaissance of jobs. Already the state has charter boat companies, boat repair and fabrication, shellfishing ecotourism and water-based recreational and tourist providers. Building on that base, the state could thrive with its identity as a world leader in boat building, rigging, engine repair, etc., by clustering the maritime trades and promoting them in conjunction with our technical schools. Throw in a good measure of training for security expertise here and in cybersecurity for the other emerging fields.

Food sciences is a no-brainer, building on Johnson & Wales international reputation as well as the foodie reputation of many fine restaurants here. Building a support matrix for food-related businesses, including shipping food products abroad, can also be a cornerstone of the state economic development.

The health sciences portion can also be accelerated by building on the foundation of existing med-tech entities, research institutions, drug and device developers and manufacturers of new therapeutic instruments, vaccines, software and textiles to market.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, candidates should be analyzing the action agenda outlined in the January report. A full game plan will be ready by October, promises Marcel Valois, executive director of Commerce RI. If this most recent report is any indication, he will acquit himself admirably, given the rock solid proposals and strategies to date of integrating each field of focus.

Special interests buffer the General Assembly for money to promote itself outside of a cogent game plan. It's way past time for leaders to listen and read the analyses already in place and to move forward. Ms. Raimondo seems to get it. Mr. Taveras has a way to go.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.


Kudos to the Providence Journal for illuminating a serious problem at R.I. Hospital. In that Feb., 18th article, "Stressing the hospitals" it was noted that, “people without money — including undocumented immigrants who may stay in America for “free” treatment.” In a Feb., 27th Journal article “R.I. unemployment figure for December is adjusted up to 9.3 percent” it was noted that, “the state must contend with…immigration issues and the number of undocumented workers here.”
Our immigration laws are pretty darn good at addressing the wants and needs of America. However, our lawmakers pander to illegal aliens already here, and encourage others to come. Their presence is the problem. Changing their legal status will not fix the problem!
We must institute E-Verify and actually impose the prescribed penalties for employing illegal aliens. The least that govt. can do is to strenuously apply the E-Verify and SAVE programs to ensure that no tax dollars flow to illegal residents.
RI has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, 9.3%. Our citizens lucky enough to find jobs must work for lower wages and benefits as a result of illegal labor competition. If you’re out of work you should be screaming for E-Verify!
Since the LAST amnesty we now have between 13-15 million illegal aliens. Ignoring the law caused this. Enforcing the law can solve this! Our elected officials must act with courage and common sense! I know – but I can hope!

William Perry
Cumberland, RI