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In first trip as governor-elect, Lamont talks economic development in New London

November 9, 2018

New London — In his first trip since winning the gubernatorial election, Ned Lamont stopped at the Garde Arts Center midday Friday for a meeting with local elected officials and business leaders, and then visited Electric Boat.

The meeting was closed to the media but Lamont and Lt. Gov.-Elect Susan Bysiewicz afterward spoke to reporters about the discussion of advanced manufacturing, tourism, gaming, energy and offshore wind.

To laughter and groans, Lamont said that he wanted to first come to “a part of the state where we really do have the wind to our back.” With amped-up hiring at Electric Boat and investment in State Pier, he talked about wanting a state government that “doesn’t get in the way but does just the opposite.”

Along with Democratic and Republican legislators, the meeting included representatives from Deepwater Wind, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, Mystic Seaport, Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition.

“One of the reasons we wanted to have this meeting is there are emerging opportunities with the building of the wind farm,” Bysiewicz said. “We know that there will be more opportunities for tradespeople, and that’s why we want to work with labor and our educational institutions to make sure we have the trained people for those jobs.”

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said she hopes programs like the Eastern CT Manufacturing Pipeline can be expanded under the Lamont-Bysiewicz administration.

Lamont said he wants to make sure Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger has all the people he needs for the next 10 years.

“We’re not Silicon Valley when it comes to computer science; we are the Silicon Valley of advanced manufacturing,” he said.

The meeting also included talk of the casinos. Lamont said sports betting and how the state has been “slow off the draw” came up, and Bysiewicz stressed that the casinos are diversifying beyond gaming, into entertainment and other areas.

Among those standing next to Lamont at the podium on Friday were Sens. Heather Somers, R-Groton, and Paul Formica, R-East Lyme.

Somers said she hopes the display of bipartisanship is “more than just symbolic,” and said that it’s “refreshing to have a governor-elect and a lieutenant governor-elect that have come and invited us and embraced us to have a seat at the table. I felt that our suggestions and ideas were taken seriously.”

Somers told The Day afterward that her suggestions included having a direct report to the governor’s office for tourism, and making sure Lamont’s choices for commissioners share a cohesive vision.

Felix Reyes, director of development and planning for the City of New London, separately said he thought Somers’ point about who Lamont puts in charge was “critical,” especially when it comes to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“We’re a coastal community, so we’re always being challenged by the DEEP, in what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do,” he said.

Reyes also said that when it comes to the wind industry, it’s critical that Connecticut is first, as that will attract other manufacturers to the state.

e.moser@theday.com

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