The six New England states are collaborating on a partnership designed to connect small and mid-sized businesses with large defense contractors.

The New England Regional Defense Industry Collaboration is funded through a new $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said the partnership will coordinate the growth of defense-related businesses across the region.

"This new, multi-state collaboration will advance the New England defense industry and help Connecticut's small and medium-sized companies continue to grow and compete," Malloy said in a statement.

The partnership will focus on developing a trusted network to make it easier for large defense contractors to locate smaller suppliers that are able to meet their production, certification, and process requirements.

It will also help small and mid-sized businesses meet new cybersecurity requirements for defense industry supply chain companies.

A steering committee that includes representatives from defense businesses and economic development leaders from the six states pursued the funding to create the regional group.

News of the grant followed United Technologies Corporation's announcement that it will invest over $15 billion in its U.S. operations and hire 35,000 employees over the next five years—including 2,000 in Connecticut.

UTC also plans to spend an additional $75 million on its U.S. supply chain.