Celebrating National Manufacturing Day
As we mark National Manufacturing Day today and Manufacturing Month during October, I hope you will join me in recognizing how important skilled labor is to our economy in eastern Connecticut. This is a promising time for our region as an increase in local manufacturing is creating new jobs and driving economic growth across the state and right here in our own backyard. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight just a few of the exciting manufacturing developments taking place in eastern Connecticut that I have seen firsthand over the last year.
On Tuesday morning, I kicked off National Manufacturing Month by hosting a summit to connect small parts suppliers and precision manufacturing firms with General Dynamics Electric Boat to generate new partnerships with local businesses. The work being carried out at the EB shipyard in Groton is supported by nearly 500 companies across our region and the state- so what happens at the shipyard has a wide-reaching impact across our entire economy far from the shoreline.
Work at EB is continuing to grow thanks in part to the largest shipbuilding contract in Navy history which I helped to arrange in 2014. The shipyard has been producing two new Virginia-class submarines per year ever since. And earlier this year, it was announced that EB will serve as the ‘prime contractor’ for the next generation of ballistic missile submarines to be called the Columbia-class which will begin production in 2019.
Thanks to continuing work on the Virginia-class and the forthcoming Columbia-class, EB is expecting to make least 14,000 new hires over the next 15 years. I’m looking forward to seeing how the increased production at Electric Boat continues to increase prosperity across our region. As the ranking member of the Seapower subcommittee, I will continue to advocate for increasing work at EB to create new jobs and opportunities for local residents.
In August, I traveled to Pawcatuck to visit the headquarters of Davis-Standard LLC, a plastics and rubber manufacturing company. The Pawcatuck site currently employs around 400 people, and thanks to a research and development tax credit I supported in Congress last year, the company plans to make 30 additional hires over the next two years.
I was impressed by the cleanliness of the machining floor, their advanced manufacturing practices, and high level employee engagement at Davis-Standard. It’s always exciting to see such a robust operation in action.
One of my most exciting recent visits was to the former Warren Mill in Stafford Springs, which is now part of the American Woolen Company. Over 160 years old, it is the last traditional textile mill in the state, and currently employs over 80 people. After the Warren Mill closed its doors several years ago, I worked with Jacob Harrison Long, CEO of American Woolen, and town officials to ensure a smooth transition to new ownership.
As a result of our work, the mill reopened and the new company was able to rehire a number of the former Warren Mill employees. During my visit in August, I watched as the company re-activated wool carding and spinning machines that had been unused and gathering dust for more than twelve years. I look forward to American Woolen’s continued growth- they just made a deal to manufacture top-quality pea coats for the United States Navy- and the company’s sustained positive impact on the Stafford Springs community.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many business owners and workers in eastern Connecticut, our manufacturing future looks very bright. I will continue to do all I can to make our region is a place where manufacturing continues to thrive.
A ‘Manufacturing Pipeline’ to train new workers
Last Friday, I attended the grand opening of the new Quinebaug Valley Community College advanced manufacturing center in Danielson. The new cutting edge facility will be a key part of the manufacturing pipeline that helps to train students in the skills needed to meet the growing demand of the submarine industry and other manufacturing initiatives in the region. With EB poised to make more than 1,500 new hires this year alone, and thousands over the next decade, it’s an all-hands-on-deck operation to get new workers trained for these well-paying careers.
That’s why last year I helped to establish the manufacturing pipeline in partnership with our local community colleges and the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment after obtaining a $6 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Just last spring, the pipeline graduated its very first class from another partnering school, Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. Now with the addition of the new QVCC advanced manufacturing center, we have greatly increased our ability to provide students with a top-tier technical education, and we can get more students through the program faster.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many business owners and workers in eastern Connecticut, our manufacturing future looks very bright. I will continue to do all I can to make sure our region is a place where manufacturing continues to thrive.