Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday that he had named a Cromwellian manufacturer as the state’s chief manufacturing officer to promote Connecticut’s more than 4,000 companies that make submarines, jet engines, helicopters, medical and aerospace equipment and other high-value products.
Paul Lavoie, managing director of Carey Manufacturing, a maker of latches, latches, handles and electronics, cited his work to bring manufacturing back to China. He succeeds Colin Cooper, an aerospace executive who pledged to serve two years when Lamont named him Connecticut’s first manufacturing chief in 2019.
Lavoie spoke out three years ago against the paid family and medical leave program and the $15 minimum wage, both of which were enacted by Lamont, but said he now views the issues differently.
Businesses have previously criticized the program for undermining the flexibility needed to run a small business. Lavoie said the state will now relieve small businesses of the cost of leave for an employee on maternity leave
“I think sometimes you have to look at these things both ways,” he said at an announcement ceremony at Mott Corp., a Farmington-based maker of filtration and flow control equipment. “Does it give me a challenge on how to do business when your costs go up? We struggle with this every day in manufacturing.
Connecticut manufacturers did not shut down during the pandemic, but still lost workers as the economy weakened and demand fell. The sector has added jobs as the working population has generally recovered from widespread business shutdowns two years ago to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The state posted 156,200 manufacturing jobs in December, up more than 5% since hitting bottom in April 2020, but still down 4,700 from the pre-pandemic peak.
The challenge now is that even though manufacturers have a lot of work, they have to find workers. General Dynamics Electric Boat, for example, announcement last week it plans to hire more than 3,000 workers this year to build submarines for the US Navy.
State officials, businesses, community colleges, technical schools and others have implemented workforce development programs, but COVID-19 has scrambled economic and workforce policies. ‘work. Cooper said the number of open jobs in manufacturing is 40% higher than before the pandemic.
“The manufacturers have done their job,” he said. “You came out, you created a demand for your goods and services. And now we need trained people to fill the positions necessary to manufacture these goods and provide these services. »
The manufacturing manager position, which pays $145,314 a year, was created two years ago in circumstances not much different from today, although COVID-19 has compounded the problems of workforce. Business owners and managers then said that despite state efforts to train new workers in vocational schools and community colleges, there were not enough qualified candidates for employment.
Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]