Defense Business Is Booming In Connecticut
By Julia Bergman
The Day
June 13, 2016
Connecticut's defense industrial base remained strong in 2015 and is projected to continue so, according to an annual report put out by the state's Office of Military Affairs. The report details key defense activities and issues for the nation and state and is based on data from the Pentagon.
"What we've seen over the years has been a very consistent trend in Connecticut, because we're building the right things at the right time, we're seeing high demand in the national security strategy, even as we're drawing down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Bob Ross, the office's executive director.
Major defense contractors in Connecticut, such as Electric Boat, Sikorsky and Pratt and Whitney, have continued to benefit from strong congressional support. There has also been a significant "flow-through" benefit for the smaller suppliers throughout the state, according to the report.
In the case of EB, the company's growth is also being felt by its 471 suppliers in Connecticut, who were awarded $579 million over the past five years. That total is up 30 percent from last year, EB's president Jeffrey Geiger said in January.
When it comes to "direct" defense expenditures, which includes both purchases and pay, Connecticut ranks ninth among all states, at $16.25 billion, according to the report. But when excluding pay, and just measuring defense contracting for designing and building defense weapons, Connecticut ranks fourth nationally, at $13.15 billion, the report shows.
"Because Connecticut produces weapons systems vital to our national security, has a highly skilled and experienced defense workforce, and many hundreds of reliable suppliers, it is one of the country's most productive states in providing critical goods and services for (the Department of Defense). ... This will continue to be the case through 2020, and very probably, far beyond," the report says.
The Office of Military Affairs was established by law in 2007, primarily to defend the Naval Submarine Base from closure or downsizing. The base narrowly escaped closure during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process. While Congress has continued to reject another BRAC round, the report says it's "clear" that another BRAC round "will eventually be approved by Congress."
The same year the office was established, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized $40 million for investments that provide "military value" at the base to protect it from closure. The report lists one of the most recent of the state-funded projects: an energy microgrid, noting that in 2015 the State Bond Commission authorized funding for early planning of the project.
The state-funded investments represent only a small portion of military construction projects going on at the base. Since 2005, there have been more than $250 million worth of projects on the base, $14 million of which have been funded by the state, according to the report.