Candidates differ in their level of support for Electric Boat

The Virginia-class attack submarine South Dakota is seen under construction on the waterfront at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton on Jan. 27, 2017. Ahead of the primary Tuesday, Aug. 14, Connecticut's major party candidates for governor are weighing in on what kind of support they think the state should give to Electric Boat and other large employers. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
The Virginia-class attack submarine South Dakota is seen under construction on the waterfront at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton on Jan. 27, 2017. Ahead of the primary Tuesday, Aug. 14, Connecticut's major party candidates for governor are weighing in on what kind of support they think the state should give to Electric Boat and other large employers. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

The state of Connecticut has given Electric Boat at least $100 million in economic incentives over the past 10 years, including most recently an $83 million package, a combination of a loan to purchase machinery and equipment, sales and use tax exemptions for capital and new construction at its Groton campus, and money for dredging and workforce development initiatives.

EB's headquarters in Groton has been a popular spot on the campaign trail for the candidates vying to be Connecticut's next governor, greeting employees during shift changes and handing out campaign materials. In advance of the Aug. 14 primary, the candidates on the ballot — two Democrats and five Republicans — weighed in on whether state support for the submarine builder would continue if they're elected governor.

Mark Boughton, Republican

"Electric Boat is a huge economic driver, not only for the region but the entire state and New England," Boughton said in an emailed statement to The Day. "While I have questioned some of the economic policies of this administration, such as the First Five program, I (wholeheartedly) support investments in EB which currently employs about 14,000 workers" in Connecticut.

"There is an acute need for skilled workers of all types at EB and to meet that need we need to enhance our workforce training. The Trump administration has made good on its commitment to strengthening our military and defense systems and that is good news for EB and the State of Connecticut," he added.

Tim Herbst, Republican

"Connecticut has a long and proud tradition of building some of the most advanced components of our national security apparatus," Herbst said in an email. "As governor, I will be a cooperative and responsive partner to our crucial defense contractors and the thousands of Connecticut workers they employ. That includes working tirelessly to ensure Connecticut provides the skilled workforce and positive business environment our defense industry needs to thrive here in Connecticut.

"We need a governor who understands we are competing with Newport News, Virginia and other states eager to lure our jobs away," Herbst continued. "That is why I am particularly supportive of infrastructure improvements to enhance the attractiveness of our ports and cities for employers and job training programs that provide companies like Electric Boat the workforce they need to fulfill their mission."

Steve Obsitnik, Republican

"While we tremendously value Electric Boat in our state, we need to get away from doing company-specific deals from state government," Obsitnik said in an email. "Instead, we need to create a business-friendly environment from all businesses from Electric Boat to the small business owner. My five-step plan to create 300,000 jobs in eight years achieves this goal — so Electric Boat and all other businesses will want to create jobs here in Connecticut."

David Stemerman, Republican

"This state has had to bribe our major employers to stay here because it has been such an unfriendly place to do business," Stemerman told The Day.

All businesses, not just large employers like Electric Boat, should have opportunity to grow, he said. Small businesses are not getting special handouts from the state, he added.

Stemerman has unveiled a plan to cut $3 billion in taxes, which he said will be paid for, in part, by "getting rid of these special deals."

"I've spoken to large employers and I've said to them 'if we were to cut your taxes, regulations, if we made better training available, would you be able to give up your special deals' and they said yes we would," he said.

Joe Ganim, Democrat

Ganim told The Day that he would be supportive of long-term investments "where there's job impact that translates into people being able to buy a home, pay for their education," and which benefit the local supply chain. He said he's also in favor of the state spending money on job training programs.

He said he complimented Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2016 for agreeing to invest up to $220 million by 2032 to keep Sikorsky in Stratford but has been critical of some of the other deals that "seem like they're cherry picked politically."

"As a more comprehensive strategy, I don't think we should focus much on particular companies, but focus on cities and how do you encourage companies to locate (there)," he said.

Ned Lamont, Democrat

Lamont told The Day he would continue state support for Electric Boat.

"In particular it's about job training. We've got to make sure that these thousands of jobs at Electric Boat that are opening up are going to be filled with Connecticut people," he said. "Right across the river, Rhode Island is training people at very low cost and I'm going to make sure that Connecticut is there to compete for these jobs.

"Electric Boat is expanding," he said. "We're facilitating that so they're able to compete and get the next round of contracts.

"We've got tens of thousands of great jobs in the state that we can't fill because we're not training people for them. That's a job of government," he added.

Republican Bob Stefanowski, 56, former CFO of UBS Investment Bank, did not respond to The Day's questions.

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