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Report calls for more investment, capital in RI

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm •  Published: January 23, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island should boost investment in tourism and marine-based industries, help startups more easily access capital, develop a "talent pipeline" of highly skilled workers and increase export assistance, a joint report by the state's largest foundation and its job-creation agency said.

The recommendations, released Thursday by the Rhode Island Foundation and the Rhode Island Commerce Corp., stem from a series of work groups attended by more than 200 members of the business community during the past three months.

They are designed to inform a statewide planning effort known as the RhodeMap RI and development of a broader state economic development plan that is due this fall.

"There is no one action step, person or organization that can fix Rhode Island's economy; progress will require broad participation and leadership from every sector," Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg and Commerce Corp. Executive Director Marcel Valois said in the executive summary. "Collaboration doesn't always come naturally, but Rhode Island doesn't have time for unnecessary duplications or wasted opportunities."

Rhode Island's jobless rate — 9.1 percent in December — has been among the highest in the U.S. for years. The state has gained back only about 39 percent of the nearly 40,000 jobs it lost during the recession.

The 121-page report suggests several broad areas of focus, including investing more in areas where it says Rhode Island already has a competitive advantage, including tourism, marine-based industries, and neuroscience and the medical technology sector. It suggests promoting so-called emerging opportunities and developing a stable of workers whose skills match the needs of employers.

That includes in the hard-hit manufacturing sector, which is trying to rebuild. One idea is to explore the feasibility of a new manufacturing-focused technical high school.

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