Thursday, October 13, 2016 (Issue #1)
by Corey William Steen, Business Editor
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In the past few weeks Connecticut has taken steps to stem the flow of business out of its borders and back into the state. Sikorsky and its parent company Lockheed Martin intend to produce almost 200 heavy lift CH-53K “King Stallion” helicopters, and CT believes the already existing Stratford facility is the perfect location.
In order to secure a contract with the aerospace giant lasting until 2032, Connecticut has passed a bill giving Sikorsky $220 Million, in tax credits and grants, in hopes it will entice Sikorsky to provide historically well-paying and reliable jobs to the state. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has championed the deal stating, “It’s an unbelievable transaction that we’ve entered into.”
Connecticut faces competition from other states, however. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas have all placed bids to produce the helicopters. Many of these states have had more success getting big-ticket job creators, with Georgia securing Kia with a $410 million dollar offer.
The plan, widely seen as a positive to a failing economy that saw giants like General Electric leave last year, is not without its drawbacks. The Local 1150 Teamster branch has had to vote and approve a 25% pay reduction for all new employees after July 1, 2017. The overall Sikorsky deal was contingent on the union accepting this reduction and, among other ratifications including plans for an alternative workweek, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary agreed to pay all current employees a $1,500 bonus.
Connecticut hopes that in securing the deal with Sikorsky much of the stress placed on the economy after General Electric left will be, at least temporarily, alleviated. Joe McGee, the vice president of the Business Council of Fairfield County and co-chairman of the state’s Commission on Economic Competitiveness said that to lose Sikorsky now would be devastating.
“It’s a shame to lose GE, but there is nothing that compares to this,” he said.
“You lose the helicopter business, it’s gone.”