Congressional Delegation, RI Officials, Textile Industry Leaders Launch Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network in Pawtucket

Sep 24, 2018 Issues: Rhode Island, Small Business

PAWTUCKET, RI – On Monday, at Slater Mill, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation joined members of Rhode Island’s world-class textile industry and state and local officials to announce the launch of the Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network (RITIN).  The group’s mission is to make Rhode Island a leader in advanced textile manufacturing, to promote a modern image of the sector, and to develop solutions to recruit and train the sector’s future workforce. 

“There are many stars in Rhode Island textiles.  RITIN will help them form a constellation,” said Whitehouse.  “In the years I’ve worked with these companies, I’ve witnessed firsthand the remarkable work they do and their potential to grow and hire.  That’s why I joined with textile manufacturers and leaders from academia and the public and private sectors to create RITIN.  This organization will help our textile industry promote their good work, train and hire Rhode Island workers, and share knowledge and insight to continue their leadership.”

“I commend Senator Whitehouse for bringing educational and economic innovators together to help spearhead a revitalization of manufacturing in Rhode Island.  The future belongs to those who innovate and create their own opportunities.  Partnerships like the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network have the capacity to shape Rhode Island’s role at the forefront of the advanced textile manufacturing economy of the future,” said Senator Reed.

“I applaud Senator Whitehouse and the URI Business Engagement Center for their leadership in building the Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network,” said Congressman Langevin.  “Textile manufacturing is a cornerstone of our state’s rich history, and this network will support its future success by facilitating new partnerships and advanced skills training that will create 21st Century job opportunities and drive economic growth.”

“For decades, Rhode Island’s textile industry has created good-paying jobs, strengthened our economy, and created new opportunities for working people to get ahead.  This is a critical industry that we need to support,” said Congressman Cicilline. “I’m pleased that leaders from across our state are working together to take advantage of the opportunities in this sector.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the University of Rhode Island Business Engagement Center began to assemble RITIN in 2016 in an effort to foster collaboration among textile industry leaders, academia, and government.  In late 2017, RITIN received an industry cluster grant from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and a planning grant from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Real Jobs RI program to build RITIN’s organizational capacity.  Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a statewide nonprofit organization offering manufacturing business improvement programs to Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry, provides program management and is RITIN’s fiscal agent.

According to the National Council of Textile Organizations, the American textile industry’s supply chain – from textile fibers to apparel to other sewn products – employed more than half a million workers in 2017.  According to National Institute of Standards and Technology data, more than 2,500 of those jobs are in Rhode Island’s 70 textile companies.

In addition to the delegation, the launch was hosted by Real Jobs RI, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Polaris MEP, the Rhode Island Manufacturing Association, and Slater Mill.  Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien also took part.

For additional detail on RITIN’s accomplishments, click here.