State's First Aerospace Summit Coming to Groton in September
Lee Howard
The Day
August 12. 2014
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney announced Tuesday that Connecticut’s first-ever aerospace summit will be held next month in Groton.

The Aerospace and Defense International Trade Summit will invite manufacturers from all over the world to attend the event Sept. 21-23 at the Mystic Marriott. Nations expected to be represented include the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Spain and Canada.

General Dynamics’ Electric Boat division is one of the industrial partners involved in the summit, but the emphasis will be on aeronautics rather than submarines, Courtney, D-2nd District, said. More than 200 small- to medium-sized manufacturers are expected to attend, and Courtney will offer welcoming remarks Sept. 22.

“It’s kind of like a trade mission but we’re bringing it to southeastern Connecticut,” Courtney said in a phone interview after making the announcement in Hartford.

According to, organizers “hope to have a Pentagon official give attendees an update on the F-35 joint strike fighter program” during the summit. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., will be part of the F-35 update, according to the summit program.

The idea of the summit, said Courtney, is to forge partnerships between smaller Connecticut firms such as Westminster Tool in Plainfield and other defense-related companies around the world.
Aircraft-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and helicopter maker Sikorsky will be among the participants. Panel sessions will feature defense officials from Australia, Canada and Europe as well as academicians including officials from the University of Connecticut who will discuss partnership opportunities.

George Mathanool, chairman of the Economic Development Commission in Groton, praised Courtney for bringing the aerospace summit to southeastern Connecticut. The town, which is in the process of applying for an airport development zone for a wide swath of land in the vicinity of Groton-New London Airport, could use the summit to highlight business opportunities here and throughout the state, Mathanool said.

“It’s an opportunity for diversification,” he said. “When you have an aerospace event it always has a residual benefit that lasts for years.”