The Seacoast Shipyard Association released its annual economic impact report for 2017 at a news conference at the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Wednesday afternoon.
Representatives of U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire, and Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins were on hand to show their appreciation for the economic contribution Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, based in Kittery, makes to the region.
John Joyal, chairman of SSA, said in order to maintain the shipyard as a viable submarine maintenance facility, he wants to see the association reach out to high schools and vocational schools in hopes of steering more students into the trades as a potential career option.
“The tale continues. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is 218 years in the making,” Joyal said. “We are here to assure not only the shipyard remains viable, but the communities around the shipyard that support the shipyard also (remain viable). The SSA is starting to look at what we can do to start to refill the feeder tubes for that shipyard because without the qualified people, without the skill set of these students, the shipyard’s future looks bleak.”
The shipyard accounted for $751,844,865 in total economic activity in 2017, according to the report. Total civilian payroll of more than $525 million represents an increase of nearly $30 million from 2016, which allowed more than 100 new employees to be hired, according to the report. Joyal predicted the shipyard may hire up to 400 new workers next year and an additional 400 to replace roughly 350 workers retiring.
The 2017 total included slightly more than $43 million in payroll for military personnel who work on the yard for the Navy and Coast Guard and more than $104.7 million in purchases through the supply department, up from $76.5 million in 2016. More than $78 million was spent on contracted maintenance, which was down nearly 50 percent from a year ago.
Though according to Nicole Lesmerises, treasurer for the local chapter of the Naval Civilian Managers Association, the reason for the decrease in contracted work was due to federal funding being allocated for hurricane relief in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
The shipyard paid $299,519,915 in wages to more than 3,800 civilian employees in Maine from more than 60 communities, with the Sanford/Springvale area and Kittery and Kittery Point providing the most workers with 460 and 433 from each town area, respectively, according to the report.
New Hampshire’s 2,564 civilian workers were paid $189,954,798 in wages with Rochester and Dover accounting for the yard’s largest Granite State contingency at 424 and 375 employees, respectively.
Shipyard workers live in more than 60 Granite State communities.
More than 24 Massachusetts communities accounted for more than $14.5 million of earned wages among 205 civilian employees.
The shipyard’s economic footprint in 2017 did not go unnoticed by elected officials like Sen. Hassan, who said, in a statement, that Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is critical to the economic vitality on the Seacoast and integral to national security.
“We must ensure that the shipyard has consistent and reliable resources it needs,” she stated.
Sen. Shaheen echoed those sentiments.
“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is important to both New Hampshire’s regional economy and to our national security objectives,” Shaheen said. “This economic impact report reinforces how significant continued Navy investments are in the shipyard’s infrastructure. As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of the shipyard and its workforce.”
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