Langevin Launches "RI in Business" Tour to Support Economic Growth

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) kicked off his RI in Business initiative today from the Atrion world headquarters in Warwick. This weeklong event will give the Congressman an opportunity to hear from business owners about the challenges and benefits of doing business in Rhode Island and discuss what can be done to improve the state’s overall economic climate. RI in Business is also an effort to bring together private industry and public resources in order to highlight business success stories and apply effective strategies to new and growing businesses.

“Each of us brings something different to the table when it comes to improving our state’s business environment,” Langevin said. “I give so much credit to the entrepreneurs and workers who are in the trenches, building businesses from the ground up. The rest of us, from government officials to start-up incubators, are here to support those grassroots efforts. We often consider business to be a solitary endeavor, but if we are to succeed on a larger scale, we must be in this together.”

Langevin was joined at the kickoff by Atrion CEO Tim Hebert, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation Neil Steinberg, and Davide Dukcevich, owner of Daniele foods.

“As a business owner, I have the responsibility to grow the Rhode Island economy. There is no single solution to solve all the challenges we face with opening and growing a business, but we made a decision to solve the challenges we faced instead of focusing on the roadblocks,” said Hebert. “One way we did this was to concentrate on our workforce development and skill-gap challenges, which eventually led to our very successful and recognized Apprenticeship Program. This program focuses on recruiting individuals based on their soft skills, and then we as a company take the first 12 to 18 months of their employment to teach these individuals the technical skills needed to become advanced engineers at our organization.”

“I have made it my personal and professional mission, as Secretary of State, to help entrepreneurs and small business owners turn their vision into a reality,” said Mollis. “Today, through our e-commerce tools, we have made it easier for existing and prospective businesses to interact with our office. Allowing business to flourish in a business-friendly environment will continue to be my goal as we move forward.”

“Business leaders tell us that the state’s self-esteem problem is holding us back. We’ve got to change that,” said Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, which has launched “It’s All In Our Backyard,” a public awareness campaign that came out of the Foundation’s Make It Happen RI economic development initiative. “So, Backyard shines a light on success stories like Cranston’s Fielding Manufacturing, which makes specialized medical devices that are sold around the world.”

“Jim was one of the first leaders in Rhode Island to recognize the state’s rich culinary heritage and how vital it is to the local economy. His Food Week tour earlier this year showed that that the Rhode Island food industry has no greater champion,” said Dukcevich. “Rather than focusing on the negative, we need to celebrate and build on our strengths, and we have many reasons to be optimistic. One of our greatest strengths is our small size and talented population, which contribute to collaboration and dialogue among the public and private sector.”

RI in Business is part of Congressman Langevin’s ongoing effort to recognize the people and businesses that have invested in Rhode Island, and connect those entities with the resources and programs they need to be successful. In February, Langevin’s RI Food Week focused on the state’s vibrant food economy and the opportunities it presents to support tourism industries and rebrand the state as the “Silicon Valley of Food,” a term coined by Dukcevich. Langevin will continue that food economy tour later this month, with a focus on food trucks and local farmers. In October, Langevin plans to follow up with “RI Biz Hub,” a series of visits to business incubator spaces around the Second District.

“I want to talk to every business owner and entrepreneur, and every student with a dream of opening a business in Rhode Island, because each of these people has something valuable to say,” Langevin continued. “Only when we begin to better communicate and collaborate across industries and across the private-public divide will we be able to move forward. We need to change the public perception of Rhode Island as a roadblock to economic growth. We need to identify best practices and share those ideas with start-ups. We need to collaborate. We need to innovate. And we need to tell anyone who will listen that there is growth happening here, and we want more.”

Follow RI in Business week on Twitter (@JimLangevin) and Instagram (@RepJimLangevin) with the hashtag #RIinBiz.