Gov. Gina M. Raimondo on Thursday announced a $14 million state investment and $20 million in tax credits and exemptions to help Electric Boat significantly expand its Quonset Point facility and hire 1,300 new workers to support the construction of new submarines.
“Electric Boat is once again doubling down on Rhode Island,” Raimondo said, standing outside EB’s shipyard in the Quonset Point Business Park in North Kingstown. “This new development will create new opportunities for thousands of Rhode Island families — people who will get great jobs building submarines and tradesmen who have good work building this new facility.”
Electric Boat, whose main facility is in Groton, was named the prime contractor on the new Columbia-class submarines, and for the first time in decades the Navy has authorized the construction of two subs per year. The boom has pushed the company to expand its facilities, increase its supplier spending and hire thousands of new employees.
“We at Electric Boat are looking out toward a bright future with the potential opportunity for substantial new work and accompanying growth,” said Jeffrey S. Geiger, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat. “This investment makes it clear to our U.S. Navy customer that Rhode Island is ready, willing and able to support our efforts to build a great submarine fleet.”
Electric Boat committed to an expansion of 1.3 million square feet, with half of it being new construction, that will generate 600 union construction jobs and cost $792 million. EB officials also said they would participate in Raimondo’s fledgling Supply RI initiative, a program that commits the state’s largest employers to using more local vendors and contractors.
The state gave EB $14 million in cash for the expansion, plus $2 million in Rebuild RI tax credits and $18 million in sales-tax exemptions.
“This announcement is yet another sign of Electric Boat’s important and growing presence in our state. I commend Governor Raimondo for working to forge a great partnership between the state and Electric Boat,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Reed, whose work, along with the Rhode Island and Connecticut Congressional delegations, on the Fiscal Year 18 Omnibus Appropriation law culminated in the funding of two new submarines per year, said supporting EB’s mission also means supporting local businesses that form a critical supply chain.
“I’m proud to have secured an additional $225 million in the (federal budget) that will help the Navy and Electric Boat expand the submarine industrial base and improve the readiness of critical suppliers so they can produce and deliver components,” Reed said. “This helps keep those programs on schedule, but also helps keep the production machines and tools running at the suppliers across our state.”
Fellow U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the investment in the growth of the Quonset Point facility will boost the availability of quality jobs for all Rhode Islanders.
“Governor Raimondo is investing in Electric Boat’s long-term future at Quonset to ensure our national submarine program will continue to create good-paying, middle-class jobs for Rhode Islanders of all skill levels,” he said. “Our unions embarked on a significant Project Labor Agreement with Electric Boat. Progress is everywhere.”
The submarine-builder, flush with the influx of new work, and the state, with an opportunity to provide stable jobs to its residents, have taken steps in the past two years to ensure workers can develop the skills they will need so that EB can deliver what it has promised to the Navy. Raimondo revamped job training and economic development programs, and her Real Jobs RI initiative gives the state’s residents training opportunities to develop the manufacturing and welding skills needed to compete for jobs at EB. Skills for Rhode Island’s Future is a collaboration that trains workers in mid-career.
In Westerly, EB is the anchor tenant at the Westerly Education Center, which opened in 2016, where it offers numerous classes and workforce training sessions.
“This is just another example of Governor Raimondo’s commitment to the hardworking men and women of the Rhode Island building trades, to one of our most important employers in Electric Boat and to the people of Rhode Island,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building Trades union. “We are growing Rhode Island’s economy with good-paying middle-class jobs.”
Steven J. King, managing director of the Quonset Development Corp., said the state’s investments over the past few years have paid off. “A few weeks befoe Governor Raimondo took office, we celebrated a milestone of reaching 10,000 jobs at Quonset Point Business Park,” King said. “Today, we are rapidly closing in on 12,000 — growth of nearly 20 percent. … As EB prepares to expand, Quonset is excited for another double-digit leap in park employment in the near future.”