Governor Gina Raimondo, senator Jack Reed, senator Sheldon Whitehouse, congressman Jim Langevin and congressman David Cicilline recently visited Quonset Business Park to help cut the ribbon on a new 123,000 s/f facility at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat.
The new submarine production building, known as the “Ohio Replacement Automated Frame and Cylinder (AFC) Facility” was praised as a major sign of economic growth for the state and a testament to Rhode Island’s strategic importance in the national defense industry. This AFC facility is the first of several facilities planned to support the increased submarine construction work planned at Quonset.
The new 123,000 s/f, $47 million facility will support construction of the Ohio Replacement Submarine hull cylinders and the installation of large-diameter missile tubes into submarine missile compartment sections. The facility will feature six large indoor fixtures, four of which will be used to work on the hull of the next generation submarines and two dedicated to forming the missile section of the submarines.
Senator Reed captured he importance of the opening by saying the Ohio-class submarine replacement project as “the Navy’s number one priority.”
“After many years of work, this new facility at Quonset is yet another sign of Electric Boat’s significant and growing presence in Rhode Island, and a recognition of the key role Rhode Island plays in our national defense. We’ve made strategic investments to ensure Rhode Island is a high-tech hub of undersea technologies now and in the foreseeable future. We have to keep looking toward the future and I look forward to coming back here when the facility is humming with activity and bringing these new submarines to life,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Electric Boat has already hired approximately 600 additional workers at its Quonset Business Park location and has close to 3,700 employees on site. The company expects to increase that number to 6,000 to build the new ballistic missile submarines in the coming years.
Electric Boat’s expansion at Quonset was made possible after a new 25-year lease agreement for the company was approved by the QDC’s board of directors in December 2013. The expanded lease gave EB the flexibility it needs to construct new, specialized facilities for submarine programs.
The terms of the agreement expanded Electric Boat’s footprint by about 42 acres, which includes more than 1 million s/f of building space. The 25 year lease was a major achievement, as it was the longest lease term that EB has ever held at the Quonset Business Park.
A key piece of the lease included an incentive package which provided a discount depending on the length of the lease and an additional discount for job creation. This is the standard incentive program offered by the QDC in all future new leases.
The first part of the QDC incentive package provides a discount for the length of a company’s lease. The longer the lease, the greater the discount. The package also provides an additional discount based not on a company’s job count, but on their actual payroll. Therefore, it can be utilized by a submarine maker with thousands of employees, or a small contractor within the business park who signs a new lease and only has a few employees on their payroll - all at no cost to the taxpayer. Quonset is now home to more than 200 companies, employing nearly 11,000 people in full-time and part-time jobs in many industries. The Port of Davisville at Quonset is consistently one of the Top 10 auto-importers in North America.
The QDC is committed to helping businesses at Quonset succeed and creating the right environment to bring more jobs to Rhode Island. Today, EB is the largest employer at the business park. We congratulate them on completing the first phase of their expansion, and look forward to having them at Quonset for decades to come.
Steven King, PE, is the managing director of the Quonset Development Corp., North Kingstown.