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    Friday, June 14, 2024

    Business, economic development leaders praise state's deal with Electric Boat

    Groton — Tony Sheridan said it's "really going to have an impact on everything and everybody." John Beauregard said he couldn't be prouder. Chris Jewell called it "wonderful news."

    Local business leaders and economists were effusive in their praise of the Tuesday morning announcement of a partnership between the state and Electric Boat.

    The deal involves $83 million in state funding to EB: a $35 million loan for machinery and equipment, $20 million in tax exemptions, $8 million for workforce development and $20 million for dredging.

    Beauregard, president of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, stressed the importance of focusing on the future labor market, as EB faces mass retirements from baby boomers.

    Workforce investment board COO Mark Hill explained that the $8 million in workforce development funding will allow the continuation of the Eastern CT Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative, which has placed 1,000 people in manufacturing jobs since its inception in 2016.

    The original funding in late 2015 was $6 million from the U.S. Department of Labor, and Hill said that has been going quickly because of the program's popularity, meaning the funding would have dried up toward the end of this year.

    Collins & Jewell co-owner Jewell said of the partnership, "As a sub-tier vendor, we're going to see a lot of future work out of it. We're trying to grow our business as a result. I couldn't be happier."

    Collins & Jewell, of Bozrah, builds large custom fixtures for EB, and Jewell said he hopes this growth will allow his company to be more involved in shipboard processes. Beyond Collins & Jewell, he feels this deal will allow more people to get into the submarine sector.

    It's a "double-edged sword" for MISTRAS Group, said Alfonso Giansanti, general manager of the Waterford office. The company provides EB with inspectors, but Giansanti said EB will start phasing out subcontractors and hiring its own inspectors.

    On the flip side, Giansanti said the announcement will help with EB's suppliers, because smaller fabrication shops in the area will be gaining work, but he said the net impact will be a loss of inspectors for his office.

    Still, Giansanti feels the state's investment is a good idea, "because Electric Boat needs Connecticut to step it up and be able to support the need for material at Electric Boat."

    Economist Don Klepper-Smith said that for every job created in manufacturing, 1.5 jobs are created elsewhere in the local economy, so "it's not just a select few; it's the economy at large that wins."

    Similarly, Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said the ripple effect is "literally across the board," that it will "impact just about every segment of our region's economy."

    "It's up to those of us now who are in the economic development business, both promoting and supporting businesses, to find ways to get more of the supply chain working in this region," Sheridan said.

    To Paige Bronk, economic development specialist with the Town of Groton, the support of the state reaffirms the growth pattern of Electric Boat, and the news boosts recognition of Groton and New London across the state.

    e.moser@theday.com

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