Text and Video for Providence ​PechaKucha Night 4/30/2014

Text and Video for Providence ​PechaKucha Night 4/30/2014
Stephen M. Maciel - Thu May 01, 2014 @ 07:48PM
Comments: 2

Rhode Island First Initiative - Text and Video from Providence PechaKucha Night 4/30/2014

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. Well, 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 gets folks back to work?

What I’d like to propose to you, our state government, and business community, is an initiative, that in my humble opinion, is simple, yet powerful. The intent is to float our economic boat, while we chart a better course.

The initiative is called Rhode Island First. Taken in its entirety, this is a bold plan to serve as an economic development rally point. It’s designed to both generate short-term revenue, while enriching industries for the long-term. The vision is to address the root cause of hunger and poverty, by improving the local economy. The plan is to re-focus our attention inward, to support Rhode Island businesses first.

The Rhode Island First initiative is a three-part plan of action, to enhance and connect our existing Buy Local, Made in Rhode Island, and Discover Rhode Island movements. The first of the three actions is to lobby our state government, to when possible, give purchase consideration to in-state businesses first. A minimum ten percent goal has been discussed, and I recently learned the term for this is ‘strategic sourcing’.

The second action is to then share this message with 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 in ten times, to buy that 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 in new economic activity, add 1,600 jobs, and $50 million in 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 all adopt a ten percent shift in our purchasing. And let me state for the record, this initiative is not anti big-box, it is decidedly, pro small-box.

The third action, in keeping with the Rhode Island First theme, is to focus on things we are first at, rather than things we’re last at. One industry were we excel, is Tourism, and its sectors of Hospitality, Culinary, 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 & poverty.

We’re fortunate to have a number of ‘First’ to capitalize. For instance, we are the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Manufacturing may never look the same here, yet our ‘maker’ talents persist. Our emerging food production industry fits this plan like a glove.

Additionally, our claim-to-fame position, as ‘America’s First Resort’ is unmatched. 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! Let’s utilize these ‘Firsts’ to create a stronger value proposition, relative to the regional market.

And how confident am I that this is the correct path? The state’s recent Economic Intersections study, placed tourism promotion as their first priority. It states: “Tourism has the ability to help create a resilient, sustainable Rhode Island. It recommends we “Develop a state brand, with an interpretive story… and that a cute slogan will be weakly received.” I believe we already have a strong branding statement as ‘America’s First Resort’, which is the perfect interpretive story to share.

And our current slogan of ‘Discover Beautiful Rhode Island’ works, though, I would certainly add the word ‘First’ to it. My recommendation is to take this all a step further, and envision Rhode Island as ‘America’s Host State’ - not as a cute slogan - but as an internal mind-set. This will, as the study calls for: “Define the state from others”.

I propose to our business community, that we rally our collective resources to showcase ‘Rhode Island made and grown’ products and services ten-fold. Then bring these resources forward, and apply them, to greatly enhance existing tourism council accommodation packaging.

I suggest we 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, and 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 an immediate goal to return to peak tourism income levels of 2007, and drive much more traffic to Main Street. These collective actions will empower us to take immediate control of our economic direction.

We have test marketed some specific methods to accomplish these goals that we’d be happy to share with you. If you would like to see the Rhode Island First initiative come to fruition, contact me, and we’ll have a conversation on how together, we can be part of the solution. Thank you for your attention, and thanks in advance for your consideration.

Comments: 2


1. Stephen M. Maciel   |   Sat Jun 07, 2014 @ 12:35PM

The Rhode Island First Initiative's Proposal:

2. Stephen M. Maciel  |  my website   |   Sun Sep 21, 2014 @ 10:40AM

Also see our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/rhodeislandfirst

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