UTC cush­ions fall­out for La­mont

Talk of flee­ing state ‘patently false;’ says it re­mains ‘big, big base’

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Pazniokas

EAST HART­FORD — United Technologi­es Cor­po­ra­tion took the lead Wed­nes­day in re­but­ting sug­ges­tions that its post-merger head­quar­ters move to Mas­sachusetts re­flected poorly on Connecticu­t. So it wasn’t ex­actly dam­age con­trol that brought Gov. Ned La­mont and Lt. Gov. Su­san Bysiewicz to Augie & Ray’s.

The ven­er­a­ble road­side burgers-and-dogs joint sits on the edge of UTC’s sprawl­ing Pratt & Whitney plant here, long a touch­stone for Democrats cam­paign­ing for votes or maybe just a lit­tle re­as­sur­ance. La­mont was in­tent on be­ing seen mix­ing with union­ized work­ers happy to say that the merger with Raytheon Co. was no big thing.

And he found them, helped by the unions. Paul Duff, a fourth-generation UTC em­ployee, came down from Collins Aero­space Sys­tems in Wind­sor Locks, where change has been a con­stant in the age of merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions. His UTC sub­sidiary has been Hamilton-Stan­dard, Hamilton Sund­strand, UTC Aero­space and, now, Collins.

“To me, it’s been go­ing on since the ‘90s,” Duff said.

Of course, Greg Hayes helped, too. And on Fox Business, no less.

Hayes, the chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of UTC, politely shut down Fox host Maria Bar­tiromo when she sug­gested that the de­ci­sion to head­quar­ter the new com­pany on Raytheon’s turf out­side Bos­ton might be another ex­am­ple of Connecticu­t driv­ing away a com­pany with its eco­nomic poli­cies.

“Did that have some­thing to do with it? A num­ber of Repub­li­cans have been say­ing, look here is another ex­am­ple of Connecticu­t and its high taxes driv­ing another ma­jor com­pany out to Bos­ton with this merger,” Bar­tiromo asked.

“I would just say that’s patently false,” Hayes replied. “The ra­tio­nale for this was as a merger of equals we make com­pro­mises. We make com­pro­mises on the name. We make com­pro­mises on the board com­po­si­tion. We make com­pro­mises on head­quar­ters lo­ca­tion. Connecticu­t re­mains a big, big base for United Technologi­es.”

Then Hayes went a step fur­ther, re­peat­ing a La­mont talk­ing point that the re­cently passed bud­get was another step to­ward fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“This is not about Connecticu­t be­ing a bad place to in­vest or a bad place to be. I think it’s got some great, great peo­ple. It’s got some great at­tributes,” Hayes said. “And I think, again, they are get­ting their fis­cal house in or­der, which is the key to the long-term success of the state of Connecticu­t.”

All of that put La­mont in a good mood long be­fore he ar­rived at Augie & Ray’s, where he would spring for cheese­burg­ers and dogs, though not the John Lar­son Spe­cial, an egg, cheese, peppers and tomato sand­wich named for the con­gress­man. La­mont feigned sur­prise when greeted by TV cam­eras in the park­ing lot.

“I wasn’t plan­ning on a press con­fer­ence, ac­tu­ally,” said La­mont, laugh­ing. He added, he wanted to “go tell a few folks how happy Su­san and I are that Pratt & Whitney is not only stay­ing right here, but it’s stand­ing right here. And you know why? That’s ‘cause we have the best-trained, most­pro­duc­tive, best-ed­u­cated work force in the world. And they don’t go any­where else, but right here.”

La­mont, a busi­ness­man elected in Novem­ber, has tied im­prov­ing Connecticu­t’s business cli­mate to mod­ern­iz­ing its transporta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, which he says ne­ces­si­tates a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of elec­tronic high­way tolls on the Mer­ritt Park­way and In­ter­states 84, 91 and 95. Leg­is­la­tors de­clined to bring his plan to a vote in the an­nual ses­sion that ended on June 5.

He will meet next week with leg­isla­tive lead­ers to be­gin talks on whether tolls and other forms of transporta­tion fund­ing can be ad­dressed in a spe­cial ses­sion.

Asked about Hayes’ com­ments, La­mont said he saw it as a mes­sage to leg­is­la­tors “who have sort of taken this as an op­por­tu­nity to bad­mouth the state, bad­mouth our bud­get. He said stop, right here and now.”

But Hayes also noted that greater Bos­ton pro­vides a greater tal­ent pool, echo­ing what every­one from cor­po­rate relocation ex­perts to ur­ban pol­icy an­a­lysts have ob­served: There is a move back to the cities, in part be­cause that is where the next generation of work­ers want to be. And that is a prob­lem for Connecticu­t, which has no city with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 145,000.

“We have to do a bet­ter job of bring­ing our cities to life, and we’re work­ing on that every day,” he said. Pressed for de­tails, he pointed to transporta­tion.

“Let us get go­ing on a 21st Cen­tury transporta­tion that has Hart­ford, New Haven and Bridgeport as transporta­tion hubs” with con­nec­tions through­out the state, he said.

Hayes

La­mont

Dan Haar / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

The United Technologi­es Corp. head­quar­ters in Farm­ing­ton. The com­pany plans to move its head­quar­ters to the Bos­ton area af­ter a merger with Raytheon Co. in 2020.

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