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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Electric Boat president predicts annual hiring of 5,000 employees for years to come

    Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney speaks during a legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney speaks with attendees following a legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    State Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, D-Groton, takes notes during an Electric Boat legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz asks a question during an Electric Boat legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    City of Groton Mayor Keith Hendricks takes a photo during an Electric Boat legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, answers questions as Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney looks on during a legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney listens during a legislative briefing at the Mystic Marriott, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton ― Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney told state and national legislators Thursday in a morning briefing that the company expects to add about 5,000 positions this year to the local workforce in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    “We are hiring across the board,” Graney said during the EB legislative briefing at Mystic Marriott attended by about 150 local officials. “We have careers in every line of work you can imagine.”

    Graney said more than half the hires would be in the trades, including about 1,900 in Quonset Point, R.I., and 1,100 at the Groton shipyard. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, added that the remaining 2,000 hires would be composed of engineers and designers, most of whom would be working locally in southeastern Connecticut.

    Graney, who noted EB added more than 5,300 to its employment rolls last year, said he foresees the need for 5,000 new positions every year for as long as he can imagine, or about 20 years.

    “These jobs are for the long haul,” he added.

    Driving the new hiring, Graney said, are long-term Navy contracts to build Columbia- and Virginia-class submarines. He added that payments for work on the new Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines have now surpassed that of the fast-attack Virginia class for the first time.

    The United States, he said, is trying to counteract the “economic imperialism” of China, as well as its superior surface-ship numbers with a “strong and credible nuclear deterrent.”

    Despite China’s overall advantage in naval numbers, Graney said the United States still prevails in capability.

    “Our quality is the thing that’s carrying the day for us,” he said.

    But it hasn’t been easy, the EB president added, as overall manufacturing capability nationally has shrunk in recent years. This means having to work hard to develop local supply chains as well as a workforce that can keep growing exponentially.

    Graney and Courtney credited the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, local defense contractors such as Collins & Jewell, as well as local trade schools and even high schools for being open to their efforts to ramp up production and hiring.

    Graney said EB developed a “signing day” program similar what high school athletes experience that allows students to commit to submarine-related training programs, and the program has grown from 77 recruits in its first year to 300 last year.

    “It’s been an amazing team effort,” Courtney said during the meeting.

    Courtney pointed out that “all eyes are on southeastern Connecticut” as the Norwich-New London region posted job growth between December 2022 and the same month last year of 3.2%, far better than in any other region of the state. He said that put this region as the second-fastest growing job market in New England.

    “It’s an amazing moment for our state and our region,” Courtney said.

    l.howard@theday.com

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