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Connecticut’s Workforce Is Attracting Manufacturing Industry

Several out-of-state manufacturers in the housing industry have announced plans to move to the state, citing Connecticut’s impressive talent pool of skilled workers. Currently, 162,800 workers have jobs in manufacturing in the state.

(TNS) — Connecticut's standing in the nation's advanced manufacturing sector has reached a level where companies from outside the state are starting to find it attractive to move here.

Twice in the past five weeks, out-of-state manufacturers in the housing sector have announced plans to come to Connecticut. Manufacturing experts and state officials say the decisions announced by Baltimore-based Blueprint Robotics and Fullstack Modular, which is moving to Hamden from Brooklyn, N.Y., show that Connecticut's advanced manufacturing sector is a force to be reckoned with.

Blueprint Robotics, which uses high-tech equipment to make wood frame components that are used in the construction of multifamily housing, announced in late March that it plans to build a 450,000-square-foot factory off Day Hill Road in Windsor. And last week, Fullstack Modular announced the company was moving out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a 123,000-square-foot building off State Street in southern Hamden, where the company's headquarters and new manufacturing facility will be located.

Patrick McMahon, Windsor's economic development director, said Blueprint Robotics executives told him that one factor that swayed them to locate their factory in Connecticut was the depth and breadth of Connecticut's advanced manufacturing workforce. Blueprint Robotics is looking to hire as many as 120 people in Connecticut when its new factory opens in mid-2024.

Roger Krulak, the founder and chief executive officer of Fullstack Modular, said he is impressed by the talent pool in Connecticut.

"The amount of outreach I've received from the technical schools and colleges has been nonstop," Krulak said.

John Boyd, whose Florida-based company evaluates locations for corporations, said modular manufacturing of multi-housing components "is a growth industry, and Connecticut will now be a center of excellence."

Boyd said advanced manufacturing "is a real strong suit for Connecticut and has been for a long time," before the term advanced manufacturing became a business buzzword.

"The state has a long history in the aerospace and defense sectors," he said. "The companies in these sectors make rigorous demands in terms of the level of precision from companies that make parts for them. That requires a critical mass of vocational schools and manufacturing programs at the college and university level."

The focus on advanced manufacturing starts at the highest levels of state government, according to Paul Lavoie, Connecticut's chief manufacturing officer.

"Our strategic advantage is we're the only state that has a chief manufacturing officer that works for the governor," Lavoie said. "We're the only state that gives these companies a seat at the table."

There are 4,400 advanced manufacturing companies in Connecticut that employ 162,800 workers, according to data compiled by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

"One of Connecticut's strengths as it relates to manufacturing is that our workers score very high in terms of a high level of productivity," Lavoie said. "We're number four in that metric. And we're number three in terms of the most educated workforce."

He said in terms of types of manufacturing, Connecticut "is not a good match for companies that are looking for low-cost labor"

Lavoie describes advanced manufacturing as "the creation of sophisticated parts using advanced technologies."

" Connecticut is a high-value, low-volume manufacturing state," he said. "Shops tend to be smaller in size as well.

"But we're starting to see other geographical regions reach out to us because they can't find the type of workforce they need where they are currently located," Lavoie said.

The first evidence of that trend, he said, came in 2013 when the Swedish company Assa Abloy, the world's largest lock maker, moved Yale Locks & Hardware back to Connecticut from Tennessee after an absence of more than 50 years. Assa Abloy has a facility on Sargent Drive in New Haven.

Ron Angelo, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology in East Hartford, described advanced manufacturing in the state as "evolutionary forces at work" in the sector.

"You'd be pretty amazed at how things are made, " Angelo said. "Whether what is being made is very complicated or something very simple, it's probably being made using advanced manufacturing processes. When you look at Connecticut, we're in a very enviable position" when it comes to advanced manufacturing.

(c)2023 the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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