Ignite! Rhode Island First - Video and Text of Stephen M. Maciel Presentation 3/29/14

Ignite! Rhode Island First - Video and Text of Stephen M. Maciel Presentation 3/29/14
Stephen M. Maciel - Sun Mar 30, 2014 @ 10:13AM
Comments: 3


As the founder of the non-profit End Hunger Foundation, we’ve held countless community benefits and food drives. Yet, by many markers, we’re loosing ground. Raising taxes and fees, while cutting social services, seems to be the new norm. I'd like to propose an alternative. How about generating more revenue? How about addressing the root cause of hunger and poverty, by helping local business prosper, which improves our economy - and subsequently gets folks back to work?

What I would like to propose to you, our state government, and business community, is an initiative to serve as a rally point, to help float our economic boat, while we navigate a better course. The initiative is called Rhode Island First. This is a simple plan to re-focus our attention inward to support Rhode Island businesses first.

The Rhode Island First initiative is a three part plan of action. The first action, is to lobby our state government, to when possible, give purchase consideration to Rhode Island businesses first. A minimum ten percent goal has been discussed with the state, and I recently learned the term for this is ‘strategic purchasing’.

The second action is to then share this message with Rhode Island businesses, and consumers, and ask them to also shift their purchasing power, at least ten percent toward local business. If we all made a point, just one out of ten times, to buy our next book at a boutique store, and dine at the corner bistro, what a difference it can make. Results from a comparable study, show that just a 10% Shift in consumer behavior, to shop and dine locally, would create 140 Million dollars in new economic activity, add 1,600 new jobs, and provide 50 million dollars in new wages. If state and business purchases were factored in, these results would easily triple. We would bend over backwards to attract a business to produce these numbers, and yet, we can do it instantly, by simply shifting existing budgets. I propose we adopt a ten percent shift in all our purchasing. And let me state for the record, Rhode Island First is not anti big-box, it is decidedly, pro small-box.

The third action, in keeping with the Rhode Island First theme, is to emphasize the things we are first at in Rhode Island, rather than the things we’re last at. One industry were we excel, is Tourism, and its sectors of Hospitality, Retail, Arts & Entertainment. This industry has the ability to: a) create greater demand for native products and services, b) generate revenue very quickly, c) effectively promote Rhode Island's brand and, d) most important to me - readily hire folks up from the grip of hunger and poverty. Rhode Island is fortunate to have a number of ‘first’ to capitalize. For the purpose of this proposal, our claim-to-fame as ‘America’s First Resort’ tops the list. Legend has it, that in 1524, the explorer Verrazzano, sailed his armada into Narragansett Bay, and wrote in his Captain’s Log: “I was as so struck by the beauty, I decided to linger a fortnight.” This was the first two week vacation in recorded American history! Together, these actions serve to enhance and connect our existing Buy Local, Made in Rhode Island, and Discover Rhode Island movements.

I’m suggesting to our business community that we rally our collective resources, to greatly enhance existing tourism council accommodation packaging. Let’s set an immediate goal to return to peak tourism income levels of 2007. The Rhode Island Foundation estimates that if we had maintained these levels, we would now be benefiting from 375 million in revenue, 6,800 jobs, and a tax boon of 87 million. We have already achieved these numbers once, with the right plan of action, we can achieve them again. We can attract more overnight leisure travelers with what I call ‘irresistible’ vacation packaging, and then drive these tourists out to Main Street with compelling consumer offers.

To sum up what I mean by generating more revenue, helping local business prosper, and improving our economy; I propose we all adopt a 10 percent shift in our purchasing, set a goal to return to 2007 tourism income levels and drive more traffic to Main Street. We have test marketed some specific methods to help accomplish these goals. If you would like to see the Rhode Island First initiative happen, simply Google my name, I should pop right up, and I’ll be happy to share details with you. Thank you for your attention, and thanks in advance for your consideration.

Comments: 3

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