ProJo: Cicilline outlines priorities for R.I. business leaders
As originally appearing in The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — Repair the “crumbling infrastructure.” Do things that keep and foster the companies and jobs that depend on trade with other countries. Remove incentives that let companies pull up stakes and exit the country.

Those were among topics, much of them with a focus on the economy, which U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline spoke of during a breakfast address Monday to a regional business organization.

Some 45 to 50 people attended at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence for a gathering of the New England Council, which describes itself as an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions from around the region that seeks to promote economic growth and quality of life.

Telling the attendees that his priority has been to “do all that we can” to get Rhode Islanders back to work, Cicilline said that means creating the conditions for job creation and growth. He said one problem is “we have a very serious deterioration of infrastructure in this country.”

Cicilline said an annual report card gives the nation low marks in pretty much every category of infrastructure. The problems raise safety and quality of life concerns but also questions about economic competitiveness, he said.

“When you look at what some of our competitors are doing, they are literally racing by us,” Cicilline said.

And it means jobs associated with carrying out infrastructure improvements — engineers, construction, cement manufacturers and steel fabricators etc., he said.

The congressman also spoke of manufacturing, saying that nationally it has seen resurgence. He said 7.7 percent of the state’s total output is in manufacturing. And he spoke of a package of about 30 bills in Congress, called “Make it in America,” which he said includes one to remove incentives for companies to move overseas.

Cicilline also asserted that there are several bipartisan pieces of legislation that could go a long way to helping with issues such as extending unemployment benefits and changes to immigration law, but he contended that so far the Republican leadership in the U.S. House has shown no indication of bringing those bills forward.

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