The Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund Advisory Board has approved $8.3 million in funding for a series of new technology and workforce initiatives. 

Gov. Ned Lamont and the state's chief manufacturing officer, Colin Cooper, announced the funding at an Oct. 14 press conference at Bristol manufacturer Arthur G. Russell Company.

"We know the critical role manufacturing plays in our economy when it comes to jobs, exports, innovation, and productivity," Lamont said.

"These new programs demonstrate the comprehensive approach we are taking to ensure our manufacturing base is positions for success over the long term."

Lamont said the funding prioritized workforce development programs and keeping graduates in the state, adding that "there is a global search for talent around the world."

'From Surviving to Growing'

Under one program, manufacturers can apply for stipends or grants to hire Connecticut residents who are students at colleges or universities in the state as engineering interns. 

The state will cover up to half of the wages for the students participating in those internships. 

"We are now going to take manufacturers from surviving to growing and really elevating, keeping the workforce here in Connecticut," CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima, a member of the MIF advisory board, said. 

"These programs are really going to help a lot of our small and medium-sized manufacturers and the Connecticut economy—and as we know, manufacturing is critical to the state's economic vitality."

Funding Priorities

Cooper, who chairs the advisory board, said funding priorities were developed based on feedback from Connecticut manufacturers.

“The MIF strives to use state funds as catalyst capital to spur investments in equipment, workers, innovation and technology that otherwise might not be made," he explained.

"If it's invented in Connecticut, we want to make it here in Connecticut."

Chief manufacturing officer Colin Cooper

"Through the end of fiscal year 2020, $57.4 million of this funding has been matched with $99.5 million of private and third-party capital."

Funding will also be directed toward grants for digital readiness and cybersecurity assessments—covering up to 50% of the costs of programs like the Smart Industry Readiness Index—and match Connecticut innovators with manufacturers.

"If it’s invented in Connecticut, we want to make it here in Connecticut," Cooper said.

Job Growth

Arthur G. Russell president Mark Burzynski said investments in workforce development and technology were critical for boosting the competitiveness of the state's manufacturing sector.

"Programs like these have led to the growth of jobs in Bristol and I look forward to taking advantage of them," he said.

The MIF has invested $71.9 million in manufacturing since 2015, assisting more than 2,000 companies and creating or retaining about 18,000 jobs.

That funding also drives significant private sector and third party investment, generating $1.70 in additional expenditures for every dollar distributed by the fund.

The manufacturing fund is administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, with input on funding allocations provided by the advisory board.