Pratt and Whitney and state officials kept it light-hearted at the groundbreaking of a new 425,000-square-foot facility Thursday afternoon.
“In some ways I'm gonna miss it to be honest with you,” said Paul Adams, president of Pratt and Whitney. “I kinda like the post-Korean war motif. I think it’s charming, but I am an engineer, and my wife doesn't let me pick out any furniture whatsoever.”
Much of the equipment Connecticut exports to the world is a United Technologies product, and the jet engines among those products are from UTC’s Pratt and Whitney. Last year the state government allowed UTC to use $400 million in unused research and development tax credits toward the construction of a new headquarters for Pratt and Whitney.
Officials hope the opening of the new facility will keep the company in East Hartford.
“It secures the future,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy, “ the innovation that'll take place in Connecticut as opposed to someplace else. It secures the future of 75,000 people, not who are directly employed at Pratt and Whitney, but at some portion of the supply chain.”
Many of the old buildings at Pratt are geared for the age of slide rules and drawing boards, not computers. Some go back to the original East Hartford plant, where ground was broken 86 years ago to the day. During the ceremonial groundbreaking, Nathan Patch, grandson of Faye Rentschler, wielded the same shovel she did for that ceremony.
Work should begin on the headquarters and engineering facility later this year. It should be ready in 2017.