By: Stephen Singer Contact Reporter
The president of submarine manufacturer Electric Boat delivered an upbeat outlook Monday, telling a business audience that hiring is up, more subs will be built and the Groton site will house new buildings to handle the increased work.
Jeffrey Geiger, presenting the annual outlook for the subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., avoided focusing on the budget stalemate in Congress that forced a federal government shutdown Saturday. He said only that budget policy is a “good deal less clear at the moment.”
An impasse between President Trump and Democrats and Republicans in Congress over immigration policy, the role of temporary spending bills and other issues led to the shutdown, threatening a range of government services and spending priorities.
Geiger, speaking to about 100 business representatives and state and local officials at a gathering in Groton, presented an optimistic view of submarine construction. Electric Boat is benefiting from a shift in U.S. military strategy that’s increasingly turning its attention to threats from China, Iran and Russia.
“I’m here to give you a very positive message,” he said. “We’re very much in a growth environment.”
Electric Boat, which designs and manufactures submarines in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I., expects to hire 1,200 workers this year. Its labor force surpassed the 16,000 mark last year, the first time it’s reached that number in nearly 25 years.
“And it’s only going to go up,” Geiger said.
About 11,600 of the workers are in Groton, 4,100 are in Rhode Island and 500 work at other sites.
Employment is expected to grow to 18,000 by 2030.
Electric Boat said 13 ships are under contract and yet to be delivered, with 11 under construction. And 10 more submarines in the Virginia-class are expected to be contracted next year.
Lawmakers and President Donald Trump last month approved the outlines of nearly $8 billion in spending for Virginia and Columbia class submarines. But Republicans and Democrats failed to resolve differences over the use of temporary spending measures and immigration policy before a midnight deadline, forcing the government to shut down without a budget in place.
Temporary spending bills, known as continuing resolutions, have been used frequently when Congress is unable to find the votes to approve one-year spending plans.
Critics of the continuing resolution, or CR, say it fails to provide adequate spending guidance for congressional priorities.
In an interview last week, Rep. Joe Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said continuing resolutions “with no endgame in terms of where we’re going” are frustrating.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Friday that continuing resolutions are “very destructive to long-term planning in our national defense.”
Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation who usually attend the Electric Boat briefings remained in Washington as the budget battle continued.
Geiger told reporters after his presentation that most of Electric Boat’s business in multiyear contracts are unaffected while stopgap budgets are in place.
“Where it does impact us is where those programs are ramping up in volume or a new program is starting,” he said. “And we have a few of those kind of things that fall into that category that are being impeded from getting going at this point.”
Federal funding related to Connecticut-made military products includes more than $10 billion for 90 joint strike fighters for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
In addition, more than $2 billion is earmarked for Black Hawks and the CH-53K helicopter.
January 22nd, 2018