WARWICK – Electric Boat President Jeffrey S. Geiger painted a glowingly positive picture of the future expansion and employment at the shipbuilder’s North Kingstown facility, with 650 new jobs in 2014 planned to be added to the current workforce of about 2,800. He outlined the ramping up during a briefing for business and legislative leaders including Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee at the Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick on Tuesday.
“This is a great opportunity for high-quality, well-paying jobs, but it’s demanding and technically challenging to build something as sophisticated as a nuclear submarine,” said Geiger. Electric Boat’s extensive training programs will help Rhode Island employees develop skills to meet the demands, he said.
Electric Boat signed a new 25-year lease agreement with the Quonset Development Corporation in December to extend and expand the shipbuilder’s footprint at Quonset Business Park.
While some of the longer-term outlook for a ramp-up of jobs at Quonset Point depends on federal budget allocations for Electric Boat’s submarine projects, Geiger said the outlook for Rhode Island projects looks promising.
“We got a look at a release of the draft appropriations bill last night, and it includes strong support for submarine programs, which is encouraging news,” said Geiger.
After the wave of hiring in 2014, Electric Boat’s employment will hold steady, said the company’s Quonset Point General Manager Sean Davies. Then, when work begins on a new class of submarine, in addition to the current Virginia-class submarine work being done at Quonset, the employment level in 15 years is expected to rise to about 6,000, comparable to the peak employment at that location more than two decades ago.
One of the employees during that employment peak was Chafee, who said he worked as a materials planner at Electric Boat’s Quonset Point facility from 1986 to 1990.
“This is exciting for Rhode Island,” said Executive Director of the R.I. Commerce Corporation Marcel A. Valois. “We’re looking at a ramping up of high-paid middle-class jobs – manufacturing jobs – with an array of opportunities. Electric Boat is making a long-term investment in Rhode Island and that confidence in the state is likely at attract other businesses.”