When nothing else works


Perhaps the Rhode Island Foundation should use a poster with Uncle Sam on it to advertise their upcoming “Make it Happen RI” event.

“I want YOU to fix Rhode Island’s economy.”

Just as he always has, the image of Uncle Sam would represent equality; all Rhode Islanders are able to fight the fight against the fiscal beast that is the state’s economy.

In extreme situations – and we dare to label Rhode Island’s economic crisis as “extreme” – people tend to bring out the big guns.

The big guns in this case have been the big companies: CVS, Gtech and Amgen, to name a few. No remarkable changes have come from their conventions.

The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, or RIPEC, has funded studies on the local economy and has offered their data-based suggestions on what steps to take to improve it. Still, no changes.

The Economic Development Corporation, whose mission, according to their website, is to “create jobs, help companies expand and develop their workforce and identify opportunities to bring new companies to our state,” has been notorious for their failure to meet any of those objectives with the 38 Studios scandal.

The big guns, as we have seen so far, have failed to hit their mark.

So now there’s a new idea. Maybe it’s not always effective to bring together several large companies. Instead, try bringing together hundreds of smaller entities – small business owners; academics; non-profits; movers and shakers from various fields.

That’s the idea that the Rhode Island Foundation had, and they’re hoping it will work.

Neil Steinberg, the president and CEO of the Foundation, has sent out hundreds of invitations to people from various sectors and is hoping they all turn up on Sept. 7 to a symposium called “Make it Happen RI.” The idea, he said, is to focus on not just what we need to do to fix the economy, but how. By bringing in the people that will actually be doing the legwork, Steinberg thinks change will actually happen.

And, he said, so far nothing else has worked.

That’s a lesson not just to take in creating forums to discuss fixing the economy, it’s a lesson in fixing the economy itself.

If we don’t start thinking outside of the box, like the RI Foundation is attempting to do, how can we expect anything other than a stagnating economy?

It’s time to shake things up. “Just do it,” said Steinberg, quoting the famous Nike campaign.

In addition to the hundreds invited to the symposium, the RI Foundation is taking emailed ideas from the general public as well. Steinberg knows it’s going to be a group effort, and he wants YOU to be a part of it. Send your ideas, along with your name and address, to MakeItHappenRI@rifoundation.org by Aug. 27.


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Just submitted two ideas to the RI Foundation campaign. The 1st is a 'big picture' concept, the 2nd, more specific:

1) Position RI as “America’s Host State” - Not as a slogan, as a plan of action.

~ Expand Rhode Island’s current value-added tourism packaging to build quality, year round sustainable tourism.

~ Further capitalize on our strength industry o

f tourism and its related sectors of hospitality, retail, arts and entertainment.

~ Build off RI’s current positioning as America’s First Resort and roll out “irresistible” value-added overnight packages extending an invitation to “allow us to host your vacation”.

~ Fill our hotels and B&B’s to maximum capacity in every season.

This is a brief description of a concept I've been formulating for over 20 years. I do have a marketing action plan to support this vision to take current RI Tourism campaigns up to the next level.

# # #

2) A concept regarding the recent news story recently about "what to do w/ the Apex Building" in Pawtucket. Has any thought been given to see if it would be feasible to attract / start a Factory Outlet Store there?

We can tangent off the fact that the 1st Factory Outlet in America was in Blackstone Valley (Ann & Hope, Cumberland) and that Pawtucket, after all, is the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. What better place to showcase Factory Made Products? There could be a whole section dedicated to "Made n' Grown in RI" through history up to present. Tie in the whole Shop Locally / Made in USA campaign and you've got a winning economic development aspect.


Steve Maciel


Monday, August 13, 2012