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Aerospace CEO Tapped To Coordinate Connecticut's Manufacturing Pursuits

Office of Gov. Ned Lamont
Gov. Ned Lamont said Colin Cooper (right) was the right pick to support Connecticut's manufacturing ecosystem, one he calls the "Silicon Valley of manufacturing". Cooper was named chief manufacturing officer at Ulbrich Steel in Wallingford, Monday.

Connecticut now has someone in charge of manufacturing policy for the entire state. Colin Cooper, the CEO of aerospace manufacturing company the Whitcraft Group, based in Eastford, has been appointed to the newly created position of chief manufacturing officer.

“Through this position, we’ll work first and foremost to support the existing manufacturing companies in the state -- both small and large,” Cooper said Monday during a news conference in Wallingford after being introduced to reporters. “We’ll work to position Connecticut as the preferred location where other U.S. and international manufacturing companies come to expand their operations.”

Beverlee Dacey, the president of Bridgeport-based Amodex, a family business that’s produced a stain removing product since the 1950s, said she’s happy with both the hire and the creation of the new position.

“This appointment is a pivotal event for Connecticut manufacturing because it finally provides our state with that sorely-lacking cohesive strategy that will restructure and revitalize our manufacturing sector,” Dacey said.

Dacey worked with Cooper on the board that oversees Connecticut’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund. She said from their time together on the board, she regards Cooper as a ‘visionary’

“Big or small, male or female run, Colin recognizes that Connecticut manufacturing efforts need to address the myriad of challenges for all sectors and sizes,” Dacey said. “Our board has tackled many of these challenges and Colin’s input and leadership have played an integral role in the fund’s positive impact.”

Cooper said that workforce development and reducing complexity in government will be crucial aspects of the state’s bid to improve the manufacturing sector. 

Gov. Ned Lamont called Connecticut the ‘Silicon Valley of manufacturing’ at Monday’s news conference.

“We have had the most sophisticated manufacturing in the world -- that’s why we make jet engines, that’s why we make helicopters, that’s why we make submarines, that’s why we make things the other guys can’t make and that’s why we make them generation in and generation out better than anybody else,” Lamont said. “I, as governor, appreciate everything we’ve got to do to continue to support that ecosystem and support that network, and that’s what Colin’s going to do.”

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz addressed the manufacturing outlook in Connecticut. She said the state is projecting an increase of 30,000 jobs in the coming years. The sector currently approximately 160,000 jobs in the state.

This story is part of American Graduate: Getting to Work, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  More at cptv.org/makingthefuture

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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