By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
Touring a Burrillville maker of specialty meats, Governor Gina Raimondo and her nominee as Commerce Secretary pledged to help existing Rhode Island businesses, and to tap their experience to help attract new companies to the state.
“That’s why I’m here, to eat the prociutto at the end,” joked Raimondo, as she toured Daniele, Inc. and its new, $62 million manufacturing plant in Burrillville, which employs robotic technology to move dozens of sides of hams to and from salting and other treatments.
“I’m proud of them, and its a business we need to support, like all businesses. And, it’s right in our backyard, the most automated, innovative (plant) in the world. I think we need to celebrate that,” Raimondo said.
“It’s a $62 million dollar investment,” said Davide Dukcevich, co-owner of the family-owned company started 40 years ago by his father.
“You’ll notice here the robotic technology, you’ll see the arms sorting the hams on the racks here, and then the robots picking them up and moving them into rooms. Most of the investment was because of the technology. We think that the next step for the next factory… we’ll probably have drones in here flying around,” he said. Daniele plans an additional, $15 million expansion to the new plant, which is not slated for completion until this spring.
Raimondo and Commerce Secretary designee Stefan Pryor, who must be confirmed by the state Senate, visited Daniele as the first stop on what they call a “Make it in RI” tour of existing businesses.
“There’s a constellation of businesses associated with every plant like this one,” said Pryor. “And one of the things that we’re going to be working on is how to ensure that as many of them as possible, as many of these businesses locate themselves in Rhode Island expand in Rhode Island, don’t face red tape, but instead experience a red carpet when they arrive in our state,” Pryor said.
Dukcevich and several representatives of the state’s food manufacturers urged Raimondo to help foster the growing food industry.
“I would love Rhode Island to be like Parma Italy, you know, with their cheeses, or like Champagne in France. You know, I would love to put a giant logo that says, “Made in Rhode Island”, to have it stand for something. I think that’s a niche that’s open to us, because nobody’s claimed it yet,” Dukcevich said.