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Governor Mills, Senator Collins, Senator King, Representative Pingree, Announce Maine Defense Industry Alliance

MAINE, March 1 - Back to current news.

March 1, 2024

Sanford, ME €“ Today, Governor Janet Mills, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, announced the Maine Defense Industry Alliance (MDIA), a newly established non-profit coalition of Maine defense companies, state agencies, community colleges and universities, and other vocational training organizations. Based at the York County Community College (YCCC) Instructional Site in Sanford, this partnership was created to attract and train thousands of new employees to perform critical jobs in Maine's defense industrial base.

Today's rollout event was attended by Governor Mills, Senator King, Rep. Pingree, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition and representatives of several of Maine's defense employers, including: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Compotech. Educational partners in attendance included representatives from the Maine Community College System (MCCS), the University of Maine System, and Maine Maritime Academy.

"Maine has a long, storied, and proud history of supporting our national defense. From BIW built Navy ships in Bath, to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard submarine refurbishments in Kittery, to aircraft engine design and service at Pratt & Whitney in Berwick, and others elsewhere, men and women in Maine have been contributing to the defense of our nation through their craftsmanship and highly skilled work for generations," said Governor Janet Mills. "Today, we advance that legacy by establishing the Maine Defense Industry Alliance. By marshalling the resources of state government, higher education institutions, and leading defense companies, this public and private partnership will build a pipeline of skilled workers to fill good-paying jobs in Maine's defense sector and fulfil our mission of supporting the defense of our nation. My Administration is proud to be a founding member of the Maine Defense Industry Alliance and to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners."

"This new partnership between the institutions that train and educate Mainers and the state's defense employers that rely upon a highly-skilled workforce is exciting and vital to both the state's economy and our national defense," said Senator Collins. "Providing Mainers with paths to meaningful, well-paying jobs through investments in skills training will keep more young people in the state and provide valuable resources throughout their careers. This alliance is truly a win-win for Mainers and their families, our educational institutions, our businesses, our state, and our nation."

"The Maine Defense Industry Alliance is an innovative new coalition that will connect the educational institutions that train thousands of hard-working Maine people with our state's cutting-edge defense industry," said Senator King. "By aligning skills training with the needs of Maine's defense sector, we are opening the doors to good-paying, impactful jobs while also solidifying our state's role as a cornerstone of our nation's defense strategy. This alliance is an investment in bridging the gap between public and private sectors that can impact businesses and colleges from Aroostook to York counties and will boost our state's economy and defense workforce, as well as our national security."

"With Maine's workforce aging faster than nearly any other state, it's critical that we continue to meet economic needs and offer opportunities to earn a good living right here in Maine," said Rep. Pingree. "Our state's robust and cutting-edge defense industry has immense potential to help address challenges like Maine's historically low unemployment rate, our aging workforce, and the decline in the number of students graduating high school. This new partnership taps into our potential €“creating more opportunities for Mainers to learn skilled trades in service of our state and our nation."

"We now have a powerful public-private partnership that is Maine's coordinating body for workforce development for Maine's defense manufacturers. The Maine Defense Industry Alliance will put training opportunities on the fast track, helping the state's defense employers and Maine's workforce," said MCCS President David Daigler, who is serving as the inaugural co-chair of the MDIA board of directors.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works President Charles Krugh said, "Defense-sector manufacturing requires a vast array of skills from design and engineering to precision machining and sophisticated construction techniques. Employers like BIW need to have a seat at the table with our educational partners to ensure the training provided to Mainers prepares them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Working collaboratively through MDIA to develop a strong pipeline of skilled people will help meet the industry's workforce needs in the years to come and support our nation's defense."

The defense sector in Maine employs 19,000 people across more than 150 companies, totaling $3.2 billion in defense spending in 2021. Over the next five years, the aforementioned three Maine defense employers anticipate there will be more than 7,500 skilled positions to fill, with hundreds more expected across the sector.

In July 2023, Senator Collins, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, and Senator King advanced $986,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) for YCCC through the Senate's Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill to upgrade lab equipment and expand workforce training technology. The bill, which was officially approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, awaits consideration by the full Senate and House. This request is part of more than $13 million Senator Collins advanced for Maine's community colleges in FY 2024 appropriations bills. In 2022, Senators Collins and King secured $1.5 million in CDS for the expansion of the Welding Training Facility at the YCCC Sanford Instructional Center.

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