Eastern Connecticut manufacturing jobs grew four times as fast as the rest of the state between 2015 and 2019.
Two-thirds of all statewide manufacturing job growth during that period took place in the eastern region's 41 communities, ranging from Lyme to Stonington in the south to Union and Thompson in the north.
Connecticut added 4,000 manufacturing jobs over those four years, with the state's surging aerospace and defense sectors driving much of the demand for skilled workers.
Manufacturing jobs grew 11.3% from January 2015 to January 2019 in the eastern part of the state, compared with 2.6% statewide and 4.4% across the United States.
Programs coordinated by the Eastern Workforce Investment Board and the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance with public and private sector partners are cited as factors supporting that growth.
EWIB administers the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative, created in 2014 through a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Officials say the program has placed over 1,500 workers—80% of whom had no prior manufacturing experience—saving millions of dollars in training costs.
Many of those workers took positions with General Dynamics Electric Boat or at one of the Groton-based submarine manufacturer's regional supply chain companies.
Electric Boat, which has U.S. Navy orders for 42 Virginia class and 12 new Columbia class submarines to be delivered over the next two decades, has hired thousands of new employees in recent years.
MPI program officials claim a 50% reduction in training time required for new manufacturing hires while cutting the workforce attrition rate by half.
"The MPI is both innovative and impressive," said Dave McConnell, an evaluator with the U.S. Department of Labor. "Other places around the country would do well to learn from it.
"The program is thriving for two reasons. One, the MPI enjoyed very effective coordination of a multitude of partner organizations which yielded a clear unity of purpose in the region.
"Two, the initiative had strong and active engagement from regional employers to both design key program elements and then ultimately hire from the initiative."
"Ten years ago, eastern Connecticut had the ninth-worst labor market in America," she told the Journal Inquirer. "Now we have the 13th best.
"That's a big deal and it's because we have used state workforce dollars to increase employment and reduce unemployment."
EWIB president and CEO John Beauregard said the program ranks in the 95th percentile for job placement compared to similar initiatives across the country, noting key partnerships with training providers and dozens of companies, including Electric Boat.
"When you take a step back and consider the regional coordination required... you get a real appreciation for the dedication of the 30 or so partners that we get to work with for the Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative," he said.