Study Highlights Value of Competitive Advantage to RI’s Economy
Monday, February 10, 2014
“Increasing Impact of Competitive Advantages”
“Increasing Impact of Competitive Advantages” attempts to solve Rhode Island’s economic woes not by bemoaning what the small state does not have compared to its fellows, but instead by assessing where and how Rhode Island is uniquely positioned to succeed. This first section examines Rhode Island’s historical strengths and advantages and looks at how those fit into the future of economic development to help give this little state with a lot going for it a leg up.
The very first item on the report’s agenda is resuscitating Rhode Island’s tourism industry, which has been in free fall with a 19 percent decline in visitor spending between 2007 and 2009. While other states earmark approximately $10 million for tourism budgets, Rhode Island’s has currently shrunk to a paltry $500,000. In the latest available forecast, this added up to a 14% decline in market share against other states. If the state had maintained the share of the tourism market that it claimed in 2007, the RI Foundation expects Rhode Island would be now benefitting from $375 million in revenue, not to mention 6,800 new jobs and a tax revenue boon of $87 million.
The proposals to reverse this decline are twofold. First, the RI Foundation proposes to convene stakeholders to advocate for higher levels of marketing funding, focusing on legislation to come from the Statehouse. The second proposal is to develop a narrative for Rhode Island, one that goes beyond “a cute slogan.” The RI Foundation seeks to incorporate the unique capabilities, history and character of Rhode Island into a narrative that can permeate the state’s marketing campaign.
The proceeding item within this section is the promotion of water and marine-based businesses. With the total economic impact of maritime trades totaling about $2.2 billion in sales for local businesses—which translates into $118 million of state and local tax revenue—it is clear just how important the ocean is to the Ocean State.
The report proffers several proposals for how to build on Rhode Island’s economic investment in its maritime industries. It advocates creating a marketing strategy for the marine economy, advertising the continuum of boat building and repair services offered in the East Bay corridor, promoting the state’s marinas as “mini resorts,” raising the profile of Rhode Island seafood, and other solutions including an app specific to water-based businesses. The report also urges engagement with municipalities to encourage the building and maintenance of piers, marinas and other aquatic infrastructure. Finally the RI Foundation encourages higher levels of collaboration and shared resources between ports and water-based businesses.
"The continued development of Quonsett Business Park has been key to the success of Rhode Island's marine based industry and will continue to be a driver of the State's economy as we move forward, " said BankRI President Mark Meiklejohn. "The ability to link the port and rail will allow existing businesses to continue to expand and will attract new business to Rhode Island."
The Rhode Island Center for Design and Manufacturing
Rhode Island, home to the Rhode Island School of Design and a long history of manufacturing prowess, received a federal grant in 2013 to develop the Rhode Island Center for Design and Manufacturing. A group of stakeholders, including several area colleges and Universities, in addition to RISD, Commerce RI and the Rhode Island Manufacturing Association, are currently working together to create a permanent space to combine resources and ideas on manufacturing and designing Rhode Island’s future.
Supporting High Growth Company Opportunities Through Tech-Transfer
The RI Foundation helps to protect and encourage startups within the state. Responding to concerns from technology and science-based businesses having a difficult time connecting with the public and business partners within Rhode Island, the Foundation encourages increased collaboration between small new businesses and between those businesses and other sources of capital. In order to achieve this the RI foundation calls for publicizing and strengthening the intellectual property behind these new businesses. In addition, the Foundation hopes to partner the businesses with more established enterprises, coordinating personal connections and creating a more technologically flexible and user-driven marketplace.
Accelerate Opportunities Provided by the Bioscience, Neuroscience and Medtech Sectors
The first section of the report concludes by encouraging Rhode Island to build upon its advantages in the medical technology and research industries. Home to premier universities and colleges, including Brown University and the University of Rhode Island, both of whom have large sectors devoted to neuroscience research, plus Lifespan’s Prince Neuroscience Institute, the state is a leader in studying previously unexplored aspects of the brain and the body.
To help capitalize on these already-existing investments, the RI Foundation urges greater collaboration across the state. It seeks to create a cross-sector team from the Biotech, Medical and Public Health industries (a working group of professionals from these field have already agreed to begin the studying the report calls for). Similar to the proposal earlier on in the section for the state’s tourism industry, the RI Foundation calls for creating a narrative and a brand for Rhode Island’s cluster of health-related businesses, which would tie into Rhode Island’s “state-wide story” and with national and global developments within these critical industries.
"Rhode Island's medical science sector is first tier; however, it can be overshadowed by Boston," explained Meiklejohn. "Bringing recognition to this community as a center of expertise will have a significant and positive impact on the State's economy."
This column is part of an ongoing sponsored content series with BankRI.
Related Slideshow: 10 Historically Bold Moves Made By Big Companies
10. RJ Reynolds
The Smokeless Cigarette
In 1988, long after the American public wised up to the dangers of cigarettes, RJ Reynolds launched the Premier cigarette. They called it a “smokeless nicotine delivery mechanism that looks and feels like a premium cigarette.” It didn't. Smokers said it tasted like charcoal, and drug users quickly figured out how to use it to smoke crack. It has been reported that RJ Reynolds lost $1 billion on the product.
The alleged lobster roll – no one's sure there was ever any real lobster in there – from McDonald's was about as successful in New England as their McCrabcake was in Maryland. It looked bad, tasted worse, and was shunned by even the most die hard Golden Arches fans. (Unlike the McRib, which continues to have a bewildering trance on McDonald's fans.) The sandwich is still available in some Canadian franchises and occasionally in Maine.
Bans Employees From Working at Home
Enters the Auto Market with High End Electric
Fires Steve Jobs
One of the world's most famous college drop outs, Steve Jobs founded Apple, helped it grow into a billion-plus public company, and launched the Macintosh. He was also ousted by Apple's Board of Directors in 1985. The popular take is that the board was stupid to fire Jobs as the leader of the Mac division, because Apple would have more quickly become the company it is today. A new take on the decision posits that the then-30-year old Jobs was disruptive and incompetent in that role. After 12 years away from the company he founded, he learned the skills and discipline required for Apple's rebirth.
Takes on Sony + Nintendo in the Console Gaming Market
Microsoft has one person to thank for its console gaming success, and that person isn't even real. Master Chief is the hero of the insanely popular "Halo" franchise, which was first released was a launch title with the original Xbox. The game revolutionized First Person Shooters on consoles, and sold millions of consoles along the way. At the time, Microsoft was known as primarily a software company. They may have took a bath on those early consoles, but they now join Sony as one of the two major console makers left standing. (Sorry, Nintendo. The Wii U is going to sink you.)
Changes Pricing Plan
Netflix is back on top now, but it almost went under in 2011 when it mishandled its pricing changes and attempted to slice off it DVD business under the name Qwikster. As they did with the New Coke launch, customers responded with immediate anger, leading Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to apologize. The company reverted to its $7.99 streaming plan and has never looked back.
Opts out of Government Loans
After Detroit’s automakers went to Washington in 2008 asking for emergency loans to keep their enterprises afloat, the big bus oval was the only one to opt out of the bailout. Ford decided to mortgage all of its assets to raise operating funds instead. Taxpayers eventually spent $80 billion to rescue General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. Ford focused on efficiency and increasing sales without using government bailout money - thus avoiding the federal tinkering that Chrysler and GM had to accept as a part of their deals. The company has since kept pace with GM, the country's largest automaker.
Perhaps the most famous brand misstep since Ford's Edsel, New Coke is the Titanic of corporate miscalculation. In the 1970s and early 80s, the soft drink giant faced increased competition from Pepsi and other products. To stay on top, Coke executives stopped production of the classic formula and introduced New Coke with tremendous fanfare. The public's responded with immediate outrage. Coca-Cola re-launched its original formula – called Coca-Cola Classic – almost immediately. Today, unopened cans of New Coke go for hundreds on eBay.
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