Manufacturing jobs are politicians’ favorite subject. Every region needs more manufacturing jobs, they’re good jobs, they’re high-paying and magic and they grant you immortality. Politicians. Love. Manufacturing. Jobs.
That got Salt & Granite thinking: what manufacturing jobs exist in New England? What are the things we manufacture?
For this, we looked at a variety of sources. We excluded agricultural goods like blueberries or apples but included processed agricultural goods like maple syrup or canned fish. This is by no means an exhaustive report, but it might shed a little light on our manufacturing industries.
Connecticut doesn’t get a lot of love from S&G so we’re letting it go first.
Connecticut is pretty well-known as a financial services hub. Banks, real estate developers, and insurance companies dot the landscape around Hartford, the state capital. But $11 out of every $100 generated by the state’s economy are in manufacturing and the king of Connecticut manufacturing is aviation.
United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin Sikorsky Aircraft all have major facilities in Connecticut. Most of these work in the defense industry, which is worth $11.9 billion to the state’s economy annually.
With its long, sheltered coast line, Connecticut also has a lot of boatbuilding industry. The state also dabbles in machinery, electronics, and food and beverage. Gun manufacturing is another major part of the state’s industry, with iconic companies like Sturm, Ruger & Company based in the state.
Connecticut is the home of Timex Group USA, the American subsidiary of the Dutch Timex Group. The company’s name is a combination of the words “time” because, you know, they make clocks, and “Kleenex”, because some people are insane. Timex Group USA is the last remaining Connecticut timekeeping company, but clocks and watches were once big industry in the state.
Transportation also dominates Maine’s manufacturing sector, with shipbuilding and aviation generating $900 million for the state’s economy. Maine produces both naval warships and luxury yachts while its aviation industry primarily focuses on engine parts and aircraft maintenance.
Paper products remains an important part of the state’s economy with mills still dotting the interior, but food and beverage is rapidly coming up to take its place. Portland houses two of the fifty largest craft breweries in the U.S., Shipyard Brewing Company (#28) and Allagash Brewing Company (#35).
Financial services remains the state’s largest industry, though, with banks, insurance providers, and credit card companies accounting for 21% of the state’s economy. That’s almost exactly on par with the U.S. national average, and it grows 1-2% annually.
Maine has a long tradition of shoemaking, which is exactly not what you might immediately associate with the state. Eastland, Quoddy, Rancourt, L.L.Bean, and even sneaker giant New Balance make footwear in Maine, and while it isn’t exactly a major or even particularly large part of the state’s economy, there’s a lot of pride in Maine-made shoes and boots.
Massachusetts is the only New England state where we see a dominant “manufacturing” segment that isn’t about building physical items but about building virtual ones. Software, electronics, and robotics account for $18 billion of the state’s economy, dwarfing the chemical industry, the state’s second-largest at just $5 billion. Massachusetts’ massive high tech industry was responsible for the Massachusetts Miracle in the 1970s and 80s, which saw the state grow even as the rest of New England faced an economic slump from the decline in hard goods manufacturing.
DellEMC, Thermo Fisher, Biogen, Boston Scientific, Kronos, and Raytheon are all based in Massachusetts, creating a wide base of high tech companies. Together, technology companies including biotech, software, financial technologies, and robotics, are the largest industry in the state, narrowly beating out Massachusetts’ massive financial services sector.
Massachusetts also manufactures food and beverages: the Ocean Spray cooperative and Polar Beverages are both based in Massachusetts as is the country’s second-largest craft brewery, Boston Beer Company (the makers of Sam Adams).
There’s a mentality that eastern and western Massachusetts are essentially completely different states and no where is that clearer than in the economic dominance that eastern Mass has. So here’s a shoutout to western Massachusetts’ big industry: education. While education is obviously big in Greater Boston – you know, where Harvard and MIT are – its king out west. UMass Amherst, Westfield State, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Western New England University, Springfield College, Hampshire College, and Springfield Technical Community College all appear on the fifty largest employers in western Massachusetts.
Owing in large part to its proximity to Massachusetts – and Boston in particular – New Hampshire’s largest manufacturing sector is also technology. Tech giants Amazon, Oracle, Autodesk, Texas Instruments, and iRobot all have offices in the Manchester-Nashua area, the state’s largest metropolitan cluster.
Many of those high tech companies occupy space in what was once the largest textile plant in the world. Today, textiles account for just 2% of the state’s economy; the largest textile company in New Hampshire today is Velcro USA.
New Hampshire also produces firearms and… yogurt. It’s an odd state, for sure. But it has traditions of both hunting and farming and the modern manifestation of that is Exeter’s Sig Sauer and Londonderry’s Stonyfield Farm.
Oh, Rhode Island.
You don’t manufacture anything.
The tiniest of states, Rhode Island is more of an “offices and boating” state than a making things state. Big manufacturers are based here, like Hasbro and Textron (owners of Arctic Cat, Cessna, and Bell Helicopter). But they don’t really manufacture here. Land in Rhode Island is at a premium and wages are high thanks to financial, healthcare, and education employers.
But it is unfair to say Rhode Island doesn’t manufacture anything. The state has a major submarine outfitting facility (part of Connecticut’s General Dynamics Electric Boat) and several industrial chemical plants which form its manufacturing base.
And although its food and beverage industry is much smaller, Rhode Island is known for the Narragansett Brewing Company, a 128-year old beer brand known as the beer of choice for Captain Quint in Jaws.
Despite a string of job cuts over the years at GlobalFoundries, Vermont’s largest semiconductor plant, the state’s biggest manufacturing segment remains electronics hardware and software. That might not fit with the vision of Vermont’s rolling green mountains or cow-speckled fields that most people have, but Vermont is a high-tech state. At least in the Burlington area.
There are a number of semiconductor companies in Vermont as well as software houses including Dealer.com and Mi9 Retail, which provide ecommerce solutions to car dealerships and supermarkets respectively.
The state also has some machine manufacturing and a solid food and beverage industry. Magic Hat Brewing Company, Ben & Jerry’s, and Cabot Creamery have made Vermont’s food and beverage industry the envy of New England, even if it is smaller than that of neighboring Massachusetts.
Vermont actually has a business that blurs the lines between food and beverage and technology: Keurig Dr. Pepper. Today based in Burlington, Massachusetts and Plano, Texas, the company started as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waitsfield. It still has a roastery and some R&D and office locations around the Burlington area.