The Blackstone River Valley is known as the "Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution". It was in Pawtucket, that Samuel Slater set up Slater Mill in 1793, using the waterpower of the Blackstone River to power his cotton mill. For a while, Rhode Island was one of the leaders in textiles. However, with the Great Depression, most textile factories relocated to the American South. The textile industry still constitutes a part of the Rhode Island economy, but does not have the same power that it once had. Other important industries in Rhode Island's past included toolmaking, costume jewelry, and silverware. An interesting by-product of Rhode Island's industrial history is the amount of abandoned factories - many of them now being used for low-income or elderly housing or converted into offices or trendy condos. In Pawtucket and Providence, these abandoned mills are used as housing for artists. Today, much of the economy of state is based in services, particularly healthcare and education, and still to some extent, manufacturing.
The Fortune 500 companies CVS and Textron are based in Woonsocket and Providence, respectively. FM Global, Hasbro, American Power Conversion, Nortek, and Amica Mutual Insurance are all Fortune 1000 companies based in Rhode Island. The GTECH Corporation is headquartered in Providence.
Rhode Island's 2000 total gross state product was $33 billion, placing it 45th in the nation. Its 2000 per capita Personal Income was $29,685, 16th in the nation. Rhode Island has the lowest level of energy consumption per capita of any state.
Health services are Rhode Islands largest industry. Second is tourism, supporting 39,000 jobs, with tourism related sales at $3.26 billion in the year 2000. The third largest industry is manufacturing. Its industrial outputs are fashion jewelry, fabricated metal products, electric equipment, machinery, shipbuilding and boatbuilding. Rhode Island's agricultural outputs are nursery stock, vegetables, dairy products, and eggs.
The state's taxes are appreciably higher than neighboring states. Governor Carcieri has claimed that this higher tax rate has had an inhibitory effect on business growth in the state and is calling for reductions to increase the competitiveness of the state's business environment. Rhode Island's income tax is based on 25?f the payer's federal income tax payment.