Governor’s ‘buy local’ initiative aims to connect local suppliers with state’s largest employers
PROVIDENCE, RI – Nine of Rhode Island’s largest employers have made a public commitment to buy more products and services from local Rhode Island companies. Last week, in her State of the State address, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced the Supply RI initiative, a new effort to help Rhode Island’s largest employers use their spending power to support local businesses.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. When our biggest employers support local businesses, they know they’re getting a quality product and that their spending is going right back into our local economy,” said Governor Raimondo. “Supply RI will strengthen every business – big and small – that participates. I’m grateful to the employers that have already made a commitment to participate and will work with business and civic leaders across the state to increase participation.”

The founding participants of Supply RI include:

* Amica;
* Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island;
* Brown University;
* Delta Dental;
* Gilbane Building Company;
* Infosys;
* Lifespan;
* Rhode Island School of Design; and
* Roger Williams University.

The Governor’s FY19 budget proposal includes $475,000 to support the new initiative. The Commerce Corporation will maintain a comprehensive database of local suppliers and will provide support services for employers and suppliers, including networking events and information sessions on procurement. Local contractors and suppliers can sign up for information and alerts about these services at www.SupplyRhodeIsland.com or by calling 401-278-9100.

“Strengthening and growing our economy requires commitments and investments from all stakeholders — large institutions and small businesses, the private sector and the public sector. It is encouraging that 9 of our state’s biggest employers have already answered Governor Raimondo’s call and are aiming to use their spending power to support smaller local businesses,” said Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “This new initiative will introduce larger companies and institutions to smaller suppliers; and, through the strengthening of the local supply chain, it will assist in opening up opportunities for Rhode Island businesses and creating jobs for Rhode Islanders.”

According to research conducted for the Executive Office of Commerce, if the state’s colleges, universities and hospitals shifted just two percent of their contracts to companies based in Rhode Island, it could add more than $50 million to the state’s economy each year and create hundreds of new jobs. Approximately 60 percent of all state procurement dollars are awarded to companies with a local Rhode Island presence. During today’s press conference, Governor Raimondo set a goal to increase the amount local buying the state does by 10 percent over the next three years.

Statements from the participating employers follow (alphabetically by employer):

Amica Insurance Chairman and CEO Robert DiMuccio
“Rhode Island has been our home for 110 years, and we feel it’s our corporate responsibility to contribute to the local economy. We’re happy to participate in this initiative, and we commend Governor Raimondo on her efforts to further support small businesses.”

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island President and CEO Kim Keck
“Blue Cross is proud to be a leader in buying from Rhode Island businesses and we are honored to lend our support to the Governor’s initiative. Fifty percent of our vendors are local and through purchasing local goods and services we put $34 million annually into the state’s economy. When we invest locally the Rhode Island economy improves; a stronger economy is good for the health of all our communities.”

Brown University Vice President of Planning and Policy Russell Carey
“Brown has served as an anchor institution in Rhode Island for more than 250 years, and spending by the University to operate our campus totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. We’re excited to extend our commitment to supporting the state’s economy and local business owners through Governor Raimondo’s Supply RI initiative. A coordinated effort to linking organizations and suppliers will only amplify the economic impact further.”

Delta Dental of Rhode Island President and CEO Joseph Nagle
“Delta Dental has long been a proponent of initiatives such as Supply RI that encourage buying local. Not only has Delta Dental stressed buying from other local companies whenever possible, we also perform 100% of our services right here in Rhode Island. Buying local is the most cost-effective form of economic development. Doing so, means that the revenues and profits of Rhode Island companies are enhanced – which in turn means more local jobs and more tax revenue. Simply stated, buying from out-of-state companies when such goods or services are available locally is an unnecessary and unfortunate transfer of wealth from Rhode Island to other states.”

Gilbane Building Company Vice President and Rhode Island Business Unit Leader John Sinnott
“Gilbane Building Company was founded in Rhode Island 145 years ago and we continue to maintain our corporate headquarters in Rhode Island. Our roots are here, and we are committed to joining the Supply RI movement to promote a shared goal and dedication to increasing the amount of goods and services for procurement within the State. We are hopeful that this effort will have a positive impact on Rhode Island’s economy and we are dedicated to supporting this initiative.”

Lifespan SVP for Clinical Service Lines and Facilities Development Nicholas P. Dominick
“Lifespan applauds the Supply RI initiative. Rhode Island’s size lends itself to the cooperative relationship that already exists and will surely grow among businesses. Lifespan’s preference, whenever possible, is to buy from or contract with Rhode Island-based companies – from Warwick-based Claflin medical supplies to area employment agencies. In fact, Lifespan already spends $87 million annually in products and services from Rhode Island-based companies and another $21 million with out-of-state companies with locations in the state.”

Rhode Island School of Design President Rosanne Somerson
“RISD is pleased to be a part of this important collaborative effort to link area anchor institutions – some of the state’s largest consumers – directly with local suppliers to shift spending back to Rhode Island. As an active supporter and participant in Supply RI, we look forward to continuing to help advance our state’s economy.”

Roger Williams University President Donald J. Farish
“By virtue of their collective purchases and payrolls, Roger Williams University and other Rhode Island colleges and universities act as economic engines to power their local communities and the region as a whole. Our impact could be even greater if we focused our purchasing efforts on Rhode Island businesses and suppliers over those from other states. RWU is proud to join Supply RI, and to be a part of making the Rhode Island economy even stronger.”