State officials on Monday commemorated the adoption of a $75 million tax break package for Stratford-based helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky, which they said provides the Lockheed Martin subsidiary a competitive edge in securing the next generation of defense contracts.
Gov. Ned Lamont, whose administration helped negotiate the 20-year deal, signed off on the package last month after it was approved by the legislature with bipartisan support.
Lamont signed it again Monday during a ceremony situated beside one of Sikorsky’s H-60 Black Hawk model helicopters. The utility aircraft has been a workhorse for the American military for decades and its eventual replacement is one of two contracts for which the manufacturer is now competing.
“Our collaboration with the governor and the General Assembly for this project really does help make us more competitive for the future long-range assault aircraft program as well as the future attack reconnaissance aircraft program,” Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky, said during the ceremony.
The deal makes Sikorsky eligible for up to $75 million in tax credits if it secures the two federal contracts and keeps production work for the new programs in Connecticut. It also ensures the manufacturer will stay headquartered in the state for at least the next 20 years.
The agreement marks the second package of state incentives awarded to Sikorsky in the past few years. In 2016, then-Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration reached a deal to provide the manufacturer with $220 million in tax credits and grants in order to ensure it remained here and produced its CH-53K King Stallion Helicopters in Stratford.
Lamont said Monday he did not believe the manufacturer would have chosen to build in another state if Connecticut had not offered more tax incentives. Instead, he said the deal was designed to enhance Sikorsky’s chances of winning contracts over manufacturers in other states like Texas-based Bell Textron.
“They’re competing with another company. The other company’s down there in Texas and the other company may be getting some tax breaks,” Lamont said. “More importantly, I want Sikorsky to win. When they win, we win.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, said he believed Sikorsky should win the contract.
“The Black Hawk is going to be gradually phased out over a period of time but it’s going to be replaced by two helicopter models that will be the marvel of the world,” Blumenthal said. “They are the products that are going to keep 7,000 people here employed through 2042.”