What were key takeaways from the event?

I see an industry in a very good position to grow and create jobs in Rhode Island. Following the examples of other New England states, our composites stakeholders will work with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association to attract business from around the country. The attendance of federal and state officials, including Congressman David Cicilline, Rhode Island Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, State Representative Kenneth Marshall, and Rhode Island Commerce Director Marcel Valois, shows the depth of support for composites in our state.

What role do you see composites playing in addressing 21st century challenges?

Composites will have applications throughout our economy. As the demand for wind energy increases, for instance, we’ll need more turbines—like the ones planned for installation off our shores—made from extremely light, strong, and durable material. Rhode Island composites companies will be able to help meet that demand.

Our armed forces are also finding new, innovative uses for composites. URI researchers have been working on composite materials that can help make submarines stronger and more resilient. And in medical research, we have Brown University’s Emerging Technologies Lab, where Dr. Jimmy Xu and his team have been investigating a composite that surgeons can use as a “living bone” implant to deliver drugs and help patients heal.

How can manufacturers in other states engage their elected leaders to support the composites industry?

I encourage manufacturers to invite Members of Congress and their staff to learn firsthand about composite production. For me, visiting Rhode Island companies like Hall Spars and Goetz Composites and URI’s composite labs showed me our composites strength was no longer confined to boatbuilding.

Those interested in learning more about Rhode Island’s composites efforts can call my office at (401) 453-5294. We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate and my staff will connect interested parties to Rhode Island composite companies, university researchers, and state economic development officials.