Larson pushes back at UTC over relocation threats

CROMWELL – U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, said today that the state’s congressional delegation did not appreciate United Technologies’ threat last week to relocate more manufacturing out of state.

UTC’s complaints to Wall Street analysts about the cost of doing business in Connecticut came as the congressional delegation is pushing for military aircraft programs that rely on engines made by the conglomerate’s Pratt & Whitney subisidary, Larson said.

“I would say that’s not exactly timely,” Larson told reporters after a Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast underwritten by Pratt. “Let’s put it this way: It wasn’t well-received by the entire delegation.”

He was introduced at the breakfast by Thomas Farmer, the president of UTC’s Pratt & Whitney Miltary Engines, the manufacturer of engines for the F-35 fighter being pushed by Larson and the rest of the Connecticut delegation.

Larson was responding to a statement by UTC’s chief financial officer, Gregory Hayes, to Wall Street analysts last week that “anyplace” outside of Connecticut is a cheaper place to do business.

The delegation hopes to meet with UTC representatives in Washington this week, Larson said.

Larson has long had political and personal ties to Pratt & Whitney: His father worked there for 37 years, and the jet-engine manufacturer is based in East Hartford, the town Larson represented in the General Assembly.

As the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Larson is an important ally for Pratt & Whitney and UTC’s other divisions, including Sikorsky Aircraft.

Farmer introduced him as “the rock of the Connecticut delegation.”

“He remembers his roots,” Farmer said. “He remembers us.”

Larson did not mention his displeasure with UTC’s remarks about Connecticut during his remarks to the chamber.

Instead, he praised President Obama’s agenda, including a health-care reform bill that he expects the House to approve later this week.

“We’re going to pass it,” he said.

He said the bill was approaching the “red zone,” football parlance for getting the ball inside the 20-yard line, close to a touchdown.