Composites cluster funded in Rhode Island

A $125,000 federal grant will help create a marine-focused composites manufacturing cluster near Bristol, RI, in the US.

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US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and US Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin on July 18 announced a $125,000 federal grant to develop a composites industry cluster that will support job creation and economic growth in Rhode Island.

The grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) was awarded to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Assn. (RIMTA) and the town of Bristol, RI, to develop a strategic plan to maximize the competitiveness of the local composites industry, with a focus on Bristol and surrounding communities in the East Bay.

The East Bay is home to more than 45 composites companies with a range of expertise in manufacturing, design and engineering. These companies are supported by nearby educational institutions like International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS), which deliver industry-specific curriculum and training in composites, as well as research and development.

“This federal grant is another positive step toward growing this innovative manufacturing sector in Rhode Island. It will help the state’s composites industry coordinate economic development initiatives and create more good-paying jobs here at home,” says Senator Reed.

“Rhode Island-made composites are well-suited to meet the need for light, durable materials in infrastructure, aerospace, defense, and wind energy,” says Senator Whitehouse, who has brought several EDA officials to Rhode Island in recent years for meetings with composites stakeholders. “Our local composites industry has all the elements to keep growing and hiring more Rhode Islanders in the years ahead. This federal grant will harness those components into a strategic plan for expanding advanced manufacturing in the East Bay.”

“Rhode Island was once a hub for manufacturing, and reviving this critical sector is becoming more of a reality with the help of EDA grants like this one,” Congressman Langevin says. “The creation of a Composites Innovation Cluster would add to the state’s growing manufacturing base, and funding from this grant will enable the Town of Bristol and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association to develop a strategic plan to expand the composites industry and further economic growth.”

“The composites industry in Rhode Island’s East Bay is leading the nation in the development of this cutting-edge technology, and this award provides an incredible opportunity to continue to grow and put more Rhode Islanders to work,” says Congressman Cicilline, who advocated directly to the Economic Development Administration on behalf of this grant application. “I applaud the Economic Development Administration for recognizing the potential of the composites industry in our state. This investment will make a real difference in the lives of working men and women who will find good-paying jobs in composites, and I am committed to doing everything I can to promote this exciting industry.”

The federal grant was matched by funding from the Rhode Island Foundation and $25,000 from the Real Jobs Rhode Island program.

The planning process will bring together the public and private sectors to examine the area’s resources, including infrastructure, workforce development programs and manufacturing expertise, to develop an economic development roadmap for local composites manufacturing.