STRATFORD, Conn. -- Both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly voted in favor of a deal Wednesday that would keep Sikorsky Aircraft at its current Stratford headquarters until at least 2032.
The agreement that the state made with Sikorsky owner Lockheed Martin would retain and grow approximately 8,000 direct jobs and see Sikorsky double its spending of $350 million per year among in-state suppliers, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The agreement passed the state Senate by a vote of 35-1, and the state House of Representatives by a vote of 136-6.
“Connecticut is proud of its reputation as a worldwide aerospace leader, and I want to thank the leaders of the General Assembly and all of its members who voted today in support of a nearly unanimous, bipartisan bill to reaffirm our state’s commitment to supporting high-quality, good-paying manufacturing jobs," Malloy said.
"This is a bold, forward-thinking agreement that will not only support thousands of jobs at Sikorsky’s headquarters, but also has a direct impact on hundreds of small businesses all across our state that serve as suppliers to Sikorsky and will benefit from the company’s continued growth here. Competition in today’s worldwide economic climate is fierce, and Connecticut is showing that we remain a valued leader where businesses can maintain a competitive edge well into the future.”
Under the agreement, which is still pending U.S. Navy and labor union approval, Sikorsky will build nearly 200 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters in Stratford until at least 2032. Lockheed Martin had considered moving production of the helicopters to Florida before the deal with Connecticut was announced last week.
“The King Stallion helicopter is the only helicopter of its type in the world, and it is being built right here in Connecticut because we have the skilled workforce capable of producing the next generation helicopter,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “The economic impact of this project will create and sustain thousands in the manufacturing supply chain across all corners of the state for years to come.”
In addition to keeping its headquarters in Stratford, under the agreement Lockheed Martin will retain and grow its full time employment in Connecticut from a minimum of 6,500 employees in 2019 to just over 8,000 by 2032; increase spending with Connecticut subcontractors from $300 million per year beginning in 2019 to $470 million per year beginning in 2030; increase capital spending for machinery by 22 percent.
In exchange, Connecticut will provide financial incentives totaling up to $220 million over the term of the agreement. Sikorsky will receive grants of up to $8.57 million on an annual basis as long as it meets certain benchmarks in regards to growing jobs, payroll spending, utilizing in-state suppliers and deploying capital for machinery and equipment. Sales and use taxes will be exempted up to $5.7 million per year.
If Lockheed Martin exceeds the target level employment by 100 to 550 jobs in any given year, it will be eligible for a performance incentive grant of up to $1.9 million, for a total of up to $20 million.
“Today’s votes highlight Connecticut’s commitment to aerospace and defense – and the talented men and women who’ve made us a national leader in the industry," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. "For years, we’ve been making important investments in education, technical training, and workforce development. We’ve prioritized economic growth and improving the business climate. These investments have made a difference."
Sikorsky currently employs 7,855 people at its facilities in Stratford, Bridgeport, Shelton and North Haven. According to Duff, those employment figures will decline slightly, then grow over the next several years as the company transitions its work in the state from building the Blackhawk helicopter for the U.S. Army to the new, larger King Stallion helicopter for the U.S. Navy.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.