NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Electric Boat plans a $792-million expansion of its facility at Quonset Business Park that will lead to the hiring 1,300 more workers in Rhode Island over the next decade, state officials announced Thursday.
Flanked by a number of current Electric Boat employees, Gov. Gina Raimondo and congressional leaders attributed the decision in part to $14 million in state tax money earmarked to improve and modernize Quonset. The money was included in her budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Rhode Island will also provide up to $18 million in sales tax exemptions and another $2 million in Rebuild RI tax credits to support the submarine manufacturer’s approximately 1.3 million-square-foot expansion. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor estimated the project will yield nearly $100 million in state revenue over the next 15 years.
The project will allow Electric Boat to start building a new class of nuclear submarines. In addition to already manufacturing two Virginia-class submarines per year for the U.S. Navy, the company has been selected by the Navy to be the prime contractor on the Columbia class of submarines.
“This partnership will also help us secure additional work in the future by improving our capacity and competitive position and strengthen Quonset Point’s standing as the manufacturing crown jewel of the submarine industrial base,” Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger said.
The project represents the second-largest project labor agreement in state history, according to Electric Boat. (The largest ever was a 2001 Amgen project, a Commerce RI spokesman said.)
Quonset Development Corporation spokesperson David Preston noted Electric Boat is one of about 200 companies at Quonset Business Park, and said that with nearly 12,000 employees, Quonset is now home to one in seven Rhode Island manufacturing jobs.
Officials said the expansion was made possible by Congress passing the omnibus spending bill earlier this year. U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, who voted in favor of the measure, were on hand for Thursday’s announcement. Reed is the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee and worked to secure billions for subs over the years.
“These submarines are critical to the defense of our nation,” Reed said. “I was pleased to help the U.S. Navy ramp up submarine production and I am pleased Electric Boat is accelerating its hiring efforts here in Rhode Island. This announcement is yet another sign of Electric Boat’s important and growing presence in our state.”
Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin added that Electric Boat’s work is “vital to our national security, vital to our workforce, and vital to our economy.”
Raimondo said Electric Boat has benefited from her administration’s overhaul of state job-training programs. The company also became the 12th to sign on to participate in the new Supply RI initiative, which aims to have the state’s largest employers buy from local companies.
The news comes the same week the company, a division of General Dynamics, also announced a new long-term commitment to its neighboring facility in Connecticut.
Kait Walsh and Lexi Kriss contributed to this report.