The Navy has awarded Electric Boat a $5.1 billion contract to design the new Columbia class ballistic missile submarines, which means more hiring that will spread the wealth to other local businesses.
The contract includes component and technology development and the construction of prototypes.
The 12-ship Columbia class will replace the Ohio class nuclear ballistic submarines. The first sub, which will be called the USS Columbia, is expected to start its first patrol in fiscal year 2031.
Electric Boat (EB) plans to reach a peak employment of 18,000 by 2030, since the company expects to get a construction contract for the 12 Columbia-class submarines, too.
“That’s probably one of the biggest perks of it. Knowing you’re going to be employed for as long as you need to be employed for,” said Evan Sperry, of Waterford.
He’s one of EB’s newest employees, taking a structural draftsman job after graduating Grasso Technical High School in 2017. He’ll help design parts for the new Columbia class submarines.
“It’s probably the best company in the area to go into design,” Sperry said.
Several businesses throughout the state feel a direct impact when EB is on a hiring surge.
EB Director of Staffing Patrick Reuss said the company has already hired about 1,500 people this year.
“We’re not alone in all of this,” Reuss said. “I think you have to think about our technical schools, our higher education community at the community college and university level.”
There’s a ripple effect, according to Reuss. With this new Navy contract, EB’s Connecticut suppliers are hiring and certain trade schools might see more students.
In fact, EB is partnering with Grasso Technical High School in Groton to launch a welding program. It would take EB’s requirements directly to Grasso Tech so students could learn to specifically become welders for the company.
Electric Boat is even working with chambers of commerce in Connecticut and Rhode Island to help bring people into the area, including connecting them to schools, places of worship, or hobby activities, Reuss said.
As for other businesses, Munchies Food truck sits outside EB’s gates for the lunch rush five times a week. When hiring at EB is low, Munchies suffers, according to owner Aiman Saad.
But this year, “we’ve seen an increase over the last few months,” Saad said.
New employees need to find new houses, said Market Realty, LLC’s Judi Caracausa. Plus, the people retiring need to also find homes too Connecticut’s shoreline.
“Our real estate market has been up considerably in the past year or so. General Dynamics hiring is definitely a huge part of it,” Caracausa said.
Plans for condos and rentals are already in the works near EB’s offices in New London. There’s a development agreement for Shipway 221, a new condo development on Howard Street. On Bank and Howard Streets, there’s a plan by A.R. Building Company to install 90 rental units.
“A positive for pretty much any type of business in southeastern Connecticut,” Caracausa said.