Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) spent the day on Monday meeting with successful Rhode Island business owners participating in the Rhode Island Foundation’s “It’s All In Our Backyard” campaign. The statewide public education campaign celebrates the Ocean State and puts a spotlight on the people, businesses and organizations that are thriving. The tour was hosted by RI Foundation CEO Neil Steinberg and stopped at the Foundation office, Armando & Sons Meat Market in Providence, Fielding Manufacturing in Cranston and FarSounder in Warwick.
“My love for Rhode Island is what motivated me to run for office in the first place. I know how great our state is and the stories I heard reaffirmed that passion and commitment for my home state,” Langevin said. “I encourage all Rhode Islanders to take a look at the ‘It’s All In Our Backyard,’ blog to learn more about the forward-looking technologies, academic advancements and creative endeavors that are happening all around us. There is good news in the Rhode Island economy. Now we need to empower those thriving businesses and gain best practices from them that will help small and growing enterprises to follow suit.”
The Rhode Island Foundation has compiled facts about the Rhode Island economy that dismiss the oft-cited cynicism that many Rhode Islanders feel. Between 2000 and 2010, the health care industry added more than 10,600 jobs. Rhode Island farms have more than doubled their farm to table sales since 2002. Rhode Island is a top 10 state leading energy efficiency innovation and programs. More than 500 marine and defense industry businesses call Rhode Island home. These bright spots are not few and far between – they are all around us, and the Rhode Island Foundation’s campaign continues to enlighten residents to that fact.
“The state has a self-esteem problem. This will change the way Rhode Islanders talk about their state. There are plenty of successes to feel good about right here in our own backyard – global industry and cutting-edge innovation, thriving entrepreneurship, world-class universities and a vibrant arts and culture scene,” Steinberg said. “Backyard is a fact-based campaign that uses the real stories of real people to remind us of all the good things that are happening here.
After a roundtable with “It’s All In Our Backyard” partners, Langevin and Steinberg set out to Armando & Sons Meat Market in Providence. Oswald Schwartz and Armando Nieves led them on a tour, where they learned about the nearly 100 employees working at the Providence and Pawtucket locations. At Fielding Manufacturing, Steve Fielding showed off some of the 3D petri dishes his company creates, and other items manufactured on-site in Cranston. Matt Zimmerman from FarSounder demonstrated the company’s long-range sonar system and underwater detection devices for government, private or commercial use. All of the business owners shared what they consider the state’s strengths to be, but also made note of the challenges they face.
“Meeting with the job creators that are in the trenches, trying to help the Rhode Island economy recover from this downturn, helps me to best represent them in Washington,” Langevin continued. “There are a lot of great success stories out there, but there could be a lot more, and we can get to that point if we keep the lines of communication open. My office is here to help the business community, and conversations like the ones we had today will help shape my work in Washington.”
The Foundation is encouraging Rhode Islanders to share their own success stories on the campaign’s blog at ourbackyardri.com and on Twitter using the hashtag #ourbackyardri.