General Dynamics Electric Boat announced it is hiring over 5,700 workers in the next year.
Many of those hires will be coming to live in-and-around Groton and New London, so the area is preparing to turn the influx of new hires into new residents. Groton’s Economic and Community Development Manager, Paige Bronk, said “we think that 60% of their numbers, basically, is attributable to the Groton area.”
If that effort is successful, it would buck historical trends for the region.
Bronk said “82% of our current workers commute,” which is “a significant concern of ours. So as the hiring occurs, we are challenged in increasing our housing production so that we can provide modern, affordable and amenity-rich housing to the younger workforce.”
Capturing that workforce would be an economic priority for the city, Bronk said.
“If people are not living in the communities that they’re working, basically, we end up hemorrhaging money,” he said. “That money exits our communities and is spent elsewhere.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont toured four construction sites in New London. Within a year, town officials said those sites are expected to yield around 300 new apartment units expected to be both affordable and supportive.
“We haven’t built a darn thing in 35 years,” Lamont said. “I think we have a lot of catching up to do. There’s real demand. People want to be here.”
Bronk said Groton is making plans for new housing too.
“The new projects that are put before us for review,” Bronk said, “roughly two-thirds of the units are either studios or single bedrooms.”
He said there is a demand for those smaller housing options among older residents, as well.
“It’s not just the younger worker, a lot of empty nesters are interested in downsizing,” he said. “We have strong demand from both the young workforce and also the empty nester demographic.”
What Bronk said he does not see in Groton’s near future? Additional accommodations for families with children.
“Number one, we have a lot of empty seats in the school system these days,” Bronk said. “Most communities are facing a declining school-age population. But number two, the housing that’s being proposed by the market does not envision children. The real sweet spot is basically those single-bed units because that is what’s demanded by your young workforce.”