Name: Debbie Proffitt
Company: PURVIS Systems Incorporated
Job Title: Vice President, Defense Division
Q. What was your primary motivation for becoming a member of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce?
A. I grew up in and have worked in Newport County for a major part of my career. We all spend so much of our time in the communities in which we work and it was important for me to do something to give back to this community. I also wanted to support the promotion of the businesses and industries in this region and contribute to ensuring it remains a great community to work in. I also wanted to provide a bridge to and representation for the defense industry in this region.
Q. What do you find most interesting about your business or industry?
A. What I find most interesting about the defense industry is that it seems to be a hidden gem that so many Rhode Islanders don’t know about or understand. Even though it is in their backyard many local high school students think you have to join the military to work in the industry and they don’t have an understanding of the available careers in the industry. It is an innovative and high-tech sector that contributes to economic growth, generates high-paying jobs, and has been resilient despite economic downturns.
The defense industry is 7.6% of RI GDP with a 4.3 billion dollar impact. It is 6.2% of RI’s total employment, approximately 30,000 jobs. And for every 100 RI defense jobs, 119 community jobs are supported. It is the highest RI wage sector with an average salary of $70,000 for private industry and $92,000 public.
Q. How has your membership with the Newport County Chamber of Commerce helped to advance your business or industry?
A. Our membership in the Newport County Chamber has provided the opportunity to network with other defense companies as well as other industries in the region. PURVIS is a small business working in both defense, the US Navy and public safety, our nations Fire Departments. The skills we apply in these industries are transferable to other sectors so networking is a valuable asset. The Chamber has also been a valuable resource for information on many topics including legislation impacting businesses.
Q. What is your favorite Newport County Chamber of Commerce event or program?
A. My favorite Newport County Chamber events are the Economic Updates and the Politics and Pancakes events. Together these events not only provide networking opportunities, they also provide updates and insights into the economy and opportunities to speak with government officials and leaders. The Politics and Pancakes events are dedicated to bringing government officials and leaders to Newport County to discuss issues impacting the business community.
Q. What do you hope to bring to the Newport County Chamber of Commerce as a Board Member?
A. With the changes in our economy and the emergence of strong industry organizations in the region in my role as chair for the Strategic Planning committee I hope to support the Chamber with the long range plan to meet the needs of the region and the business community.