This afternoon, Secretary Penny Pritzker attended Senator Jack Reed’s Rhode Island Business Leaders Day to affirm that Rhode Island, and America as a whole, are open for business. She noted the role that the Department of the Commerce is playing in helping to fortify the state’s economy by strengthening manufacturing, increasing exports, and making critical infrastructure and economic development investments.
Through the local United States Export Assistance Center, the Department of Commerce is promoting Rhode Island’s exports. Nationwide, U.S. exports hit $2.2 trillion last year, supporting nearly 10 million good-paying jobs. In 2009, Rhode Island exports were just $1.5 billion. But last year, they hit $2.4 billion – representing a 60% jump. International trade now supports approximately 130,000 jobs in the state. And exports now support 17% of manufacturing workers in Rhode Island. Today, Rhode Island has seen growth in export areas like chemicals, machinery, electronics, and textiles, in addition to its biggest export, scrap metal, which often leaves from the Port of Providence.
A recent example is the Warwick-based firm named Astro-Med. They asked the Commerce Department for help entering into new markets in Latin America. They contacted one of our aerospace specialists in our International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, who helped connect them with Embraer. As a result, just two weeks ago they won a major contract for cockpit equipment from Embraer. This contract means jobs for Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Island Business Leaders Day is an annual event co-hosted by Senator Jack Reed and the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association. Invitees include Rhode Island business owners from the manufacturing, defense, services, and financial sectors, economic development officials, and state politicians. The event consists of speeches and question and answer sessions with members of Congress, cabinet officials and journalists.
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