SupplyRI Event Brings Together Food Businesses

On Thursday August 9, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation hosted a SupplyRI networking event for the state's food sector. SupplyRI is an initiative started this year by the Raimondo Administration to help Rhode Island's largest employers use their spending power to support local businesses.

The event took place at culinary incubator Hope & Main in Warren and was attended by 40 local suppliers. The afternoon consisted of a tabletop trade show, where food businesses sampled products grown or processed in Rhode Island. This was followed by a networking session between suppliers and R.I.-based buyers. The event included a speaking program featuring Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor and Rhode Island Director of Food Strategy, Sue Anderbois.

"This program is designed to position small and local businesses for success in forging vendor relationships with the larger institutions and corporations of our state," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "One of our focuses is strengthening the SupplyRI ecosystem within Rhode Island's important and vibrant food sector. It's estimated that, if Anchor institutions shifted just two percent of their contracts to small businesses based in Rhode Island, it could add more than $50 million to the state's economy each year and create hundreds of new jobs."

Anchor participants included: Roger Williams University, Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Care New England, Blue Cross Blue Shield, University of Rhode Island, Butler Hospital, Brigidos Fresh Market, Citizens Bank, North Kingstown Schools, Sodexo, LMP Holdings/Epicurean Feast, and Compass Group. Other participating partners include: Social Enterprise Greenhouse, RI Small Business Development Center, USDA Rural Development, Conservation Law Foundation Legal Food Hub, and the RI Food Policy Council.

Governor Raimondo announced the SupplyRI initiative in her 2018 State of the State Address. To date, 12 institutions have signed on as Anchors in the effort. The Commerce Corporation is creating a comprehensive database of local suppliers and will provide support services for employers and suppliers, including networking events and information sessions on procurement. Local contractors and suppliers can sign up for information and alerts about these services at or by calling 401-278-9100.
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