Colin Cooper, Connecticut’s first chief manufacturing officer, will retire in the coming months.
The veteran aerospace executive was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont in October, 2019 after the state legislature approved a bill creating the role earlier that year.
A former design engineer at Pratt & Whitney, Cooper stepped down as CEO of the Whitcraft Group, an Eastford-based aerospace parts manufacturer, to take the position, created to coordinate efforts to promote, support, and grow the the state's critical manufacturing sector.
"When I was offered this position with the state in late 2019, I was in the process of retiring from my aerospace manufacturing career and I subsequently delayed retirement and made a two-year commitment to serve as the state’s first CMO," Cooper told the Hartford Business Journal.
Cooper said he is working with Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman and the governor to select and brief his successor, who he believes will be announced in January.
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said Cooper "exceeded all expectations" as chief manufacturing officer, including "fostering an unprecedented level of collaboration between the public and private sectors."
“Thanks to Colin's engagement with manufacturers, service providers, academia, and more, the CMO has become the single point of contact for many in Connecticut's robust manufacturing ecosystem," DiPentima said.
"It is critical that his successor has these same attributes, including knowledge of both internal manufacturing operations and the business challenges of dealing with customers, cash flow, etc.
"Colin has done a great job of making time to visit hundreds, if not thousands, of manufacturers over his two years.
"His successor must be willing to continue this engagement to understand the needs and challenges of our manufacturers and to gather the data necessary to build a robust strategic plan to grow the manufacturing sector in Connecticut."
CBIA, affiliates CONNSTEP and ReadyCT, and the Connecticut Manufacturers' Collaborative championed the need for the position.
DiPentima noted the Lamont administration's goal of doubling the state's manufacturing jobs to 300,000 in the next decade, which the governor shared on technology consultant Ari Santiago's Made in America podcast in September.
"The CMO is the key person in developing the strategy and then making that goal a reality,” DiPentima said.