As our country continues to work through the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Rhode Island, with the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country, has been one of the most severely impacted states. In Congress, my number one priority will be to create jobs and get Rhode Islanders back to work. I will advocate for a stronger manufacturing policy -- particularly supporting new manufacturing -- enhanced investment in infrastructure, support for small business, including extensions of credit, and enhancing our clean-energy and innovation economies, which are key to our state's long-term economic prosperity.
Manufacturing and Trade
Rhode Island was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America. We have a history in the manufacturing sector of producing machine parts, electronics, boats, and jewelry and, more recently, renewable energy components, biomedical devices, and pharmaceuticals. Manufacturing helped build the middle class in America. But, in recent years, the failure of our government, at every level, to understand the importance of manufacturing to our economy has put American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. It is time for a new manufacturing policy that will make Rhode Island a leader again in creating products for the 21st century.
We need to provide companies with the capital, equipment, and skilled employees they need to compete in the global economy. In Congress, I will:
* Work to create a "Made in America Block Grant" (MABG) that provides targeted allocations to re-tool existing small manufacturers and train employees.
* Find new manufacturing opportunities by supporting innovation at the intersection of the life sciences and the knowledge economy -- especially biomedical and pharmaceutical research, medical devices, and the development of alternative sources of energy.
* Fight to expand and make permanent the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit and the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit so Rhode Island can compete in the new economy.
* Provide companies with greater access to foreign markets -- including increased funding for the Export-Import Bank and Rhode Island Commerce Export Assistance Centers; the creation of a new lending organization to provide additional trade finance to small enterprises; and expanding grants that help Rhode Island companies partner with government agencies to develop new market opportunities.
* Boost tax incentives for domestic production of industrial supplies and capital goods that U.S. manufacturers currently must import in order to make their final products.
* Protect the rights of U.S. manufacturers under existing trade agreements and safeguard Rhode Island jobs through trade pact reviews, improved oversight, and the creation of fair foreign trade standards.
* Enhance and protect manufacturing sectors that are especially important to Rhode Island, such as boat building, defense contracting, jewelry production, and paper and textile product manufacturing.
Bridges and roads across our country and our state are crumbling each and every day. In Rhode Island alone, there are more than 300 structurally deficient bridges and many miles of roads in desperate need of repair. With the situation growing more serious by the day, we have to move quickly to repair our national infrastructure -- both in the short-term to create jobs and to protect our long-term economic interests. In Congress, I will fight for a serious investment in repairing our nation's infrastructure and help to get Rhode Islanders back to work immediately. Specifically, I will fight to:
* Raise infrastructure investments to levels unseen since the Works Progress Administration by creating a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), which will allow for non-partisan, merit-based investment in infrastructure projects, and harnessing the capital of the private sector in public-private partnerships and expanding successful financing programs such as Build America Bonds.
* Create a coherent national transportation and infrastructure policy -- one that establishes clear metrics for success, provides accountability to taxpayers, and sets our country on the path toward safe and sustainable infrastructure for years to come.
* Build from the groundwork laid by ARRA by continuing investments in 21st century infrastructure needs -- high speed rail in our most congested corridors, smart grid technology and renewable energy systems, and broadband and advanced telecommunications.
The more than 30,000 small businesses in Rhode Island are the backbone of our economy. In Congress, I will work hard to get necessary capital into the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs to enhance their operations, growth, and job creation. I will work to:
* Enhance and make permanent tax credits for small businesses that purchase new equipment and bring on new employees, recent graduates, veterans, and the unemployed.
* Support the creation of a lending fund for neighborhood and community banks that specialize in small business loans, and provide credits and federal funding for state-level small business lending programs.
* Enlarge the Small Business Administration loan and micro-loan limits and loan guarantees, expand the points of access to SBA loans through additional lending partners, and enhance SBA's Small Business Investment Company program to match more small businesses with venture capital.
* Raise the statutory goals set for the share of federal contract dollars going to small businesses.
The Clean-Energy and Innovation Economies
Our nation must support investments that create jobs for Americans working in the clean-energy and innovation sectors of our economy. In Congress, I will work to...
* Provide federal investments that advance the technology for clean energy sources, robotics, nanotechnology, bio-manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
* Advance job training and basic research programs in the clean-energy and innovation sectors.
* Expand exports of green and high-technology goods produced here in Rhode Island.
* Transform the way we approach K-16 and adult education, job training, and workforce development to build a strong, durable, and skilled pipeline of workers and entrepreneurs.
* Combine STEM classroom education with hands-on experiential learning opportunities, and fully integrating adult education programs with up-skilling and workforce training programs.
* Make the Research and Experimentation tax credit permanent.
* Boost funding for basic research agencies and investments in bio-medical research to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and academic, life sciences, and health care institutions in Rhode Island.
Tourism and the Arts Economy
Rhode Island has established itself as a national leader in promoting tourism and the arts. From the beaches of Newport to the Providence Performing Arts Center, tourism and the arts have long played a significant role in the economies of many of the 20 cities and towns throughout the First Congressional District. And it was Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell who sponsored the legislation that established the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As Mayor of Providence, I developed a Cultural Economic Plan to expand jobs in the culture and tourism industry, which generates $112 million annually for the economy. I will take this experience with him to Congress where he will fight for greater federal support of the Rhode Island tourism industry in order to create new job opportunities throughout the First District.
In Congress, I will work to:
* Secure federal funding to further promote tourism in Rhode Island's First Congressional District.
* Build on the success of the Travel Promotion Act to further promote tourism for the cities and towns of Rhode Island.
* Ensure that our nation's public museums, zoos and aquariums are eligible for federal support so they can continue to pursue education, conservation and community development programs.
* Protect full federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Office of Museum Services.
* Encourage public school districts to maximize their use of funding for arts education.
The defense industry is one of Rhode Island's leading sources of employment with many of the leading defense firms, from Raytheon to Purvis, based in our state. The hardworking men and women in this industry provide our troops with the critical supplies and resources they need. In Congress, I will work to ensure that our state continues to support defense industry jobs by:
* Fighting for federal investments to support research and development jobs for defense firms located in Rhode Island.
* Using the existing network of defense companies in Rhode Island to make our state a primary site and incubator for developing homeland security solutions.
* Supporting and expanding the role of the U.S. Navy in the First Congressional District.