Electric Boat to hire hundreds of engineers in new year

Connecticut-based submarine manufacturer Electric Boat Corporation has announced plans to recruit hundreds of engineers in 2012 at its shipyard facility in Groton.

Speaking during the company's legislative meeting, Electric Boat president John Casey said the company's financial outlook is the best it  has ever been, according to the Norwich Bulletin. Casey said the company expects to hire 300 engineers this year, with only temporary layoffs planned for some of its maintenance workers.

Electric Boat cut its maintenance workforce by 133, but hired an additional 365 engineers last year.

The news came as a new report found that the U.S. needs to do a better job at creating and training for high-quality manufacturing and engineering jobs.

According to the Georgetown University report written by Harry Holzer and published in the Winter Issues of Science and Technology, the federal government must fund programs that will support the skills needed to revitalize U.S. businesses.

"To do so," Holzer writes, "it needs to create and fund more-coherent and more-effective education and workforce-development systems. Furthermore, these programs should take advantage of the latest evidence on effective training to maximize their impact."

Pharmacy benefits companies build up workforces in Minnesota and Kansas

Two companies that specialize in pharmacy benefits management (PBM) have announced expansion plans in the Midwest.

In Minnesota, Prime Therapeutics is expanding its headquarters in Eagan, a move that is expected to create 300 new information technology and business analyst jobs, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Prime Therapeutics was originally launched as the pharmacy department of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The company is now owned by 12 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans nationally and has eight other offices in the U.S.

In Kansas, OptimRX, a UnitedHealth Group company, will expand operations at its Overland Park facility. The company, formerly known as Prescription Solutions, said it will add more than 600 new customer and mail service jobs over the next 18 months.

Larry C. Renfro, executive vice president of UnitedHealth, said the job search will be far reaching.

"This is our flagship operation, featuring the latest technology and capable of processing more than 100,000 mail service prescriptions per day, about double what we currently handle at our Overland Park facility," Renfro stressed. "We are adding employees in virtually every position from entry level to highly experienced, from shipper to pharmacist."

Diverse Industries Show Strength, Set Stage for Growth

Foundational technology, military, biotech, alcohol; there are
not many industries as fundamentally in demand as these-and all
four have a growing presence in Washington State.

Seattle is the birthplace of modern computing as much as Silicon
Valley ever was.  But while Silicon Valley is most well-known
for cranking out high-flying, consumer-facing technology, Seattle
has a more subdued record of producing technology products that
have deeply engrained customers.

Microsoft may not be around forever, but with 94 percent of new
computers each year being shipped with the Windows operating
system, the Redmond-based software behemoth isn’t going anywhere
soon. Seattle’s own Amazon.com, which started as a simple online
bookstore, has exploded as an online retailer of just about
anything imaginable, and now provides the backbone for an
immeasurable number of both retail and technology companies.

But as Len Holmes, managing partner of The Lakewood Group, an
MRINetwork affiliate outside Tacoma, notes, technology is just one
slice of Washington State’s growing pie.

As part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s
plan, Washington became home to one of the first U.S. military
bases under the joint jurisdiction of both the Army and the Air
Force. Joint Base Lewis-McChord combines two once-neighboring bases
and shares their resources. The joint base is able to find
efficiencies, theoretically reducing its economic impact. Units,
equipment, and personnel from nearby closed military bases have
been relocating to Lewis-McChord, providing a strong economic boon
to the region.

While the state’s biotechnology firms may be outshone to a
degree by its consumer technology companies, that industry added
more than $10 billion to the economy in 2010 and managed to grow
its workforce nearly 9 percent from the beginning of the recession
in 2007 to the first quarter of 2011.

“Lingering questions over the state of healthcare legislation
have recently put a damper on Washington’s enthusiastic
biotechnology growth-specifically in the medical devices sector,”
says Holmes, “Companies are being cautious about adding headcount
as long as uncertainty remains.”

Yet, such companies aren’t seeing their businesses shrink. In
fact, they are holding onto cash that could fuel rapid growth once
the industry’s future becomes clearer.

Rounding out the state’s economic diversity is a rapidly growing
wine business. Over the last two decades, the total acreage devoted
to wine making has grown from 11,100 acres to more than 40,000,
while the number of wineries grew from less than 80 to more than
700. In fact, nearly 200 new wineries have opened in Washington
State since the beginning of the recession.

“There are some very bright spots in Washington’s economy right
now, but overall I don’t think we are feeling that buzz yet,” notes
Holmes. “What we are seeing is a strong foundation of diverse
sectors which are continuing to survive. Once the national economy
picks up speed, they will be able to feed off of each other to
start building again.”

Jobs Act pushes billions for highway and infrastructure construction jobs

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is hoping that the quick approval of President Barack Obama’s Jobs Act will help pump billions of dollars into the country’s infrastructure and create thousands of construction jobs.

Speaking at a United Parcel Service facility in Kentucky recently, Geithner said the bill includes $140 billion in infrastructure spending and aid to states to improve roads, bridges and other transportation.

Geithner’s visit came as a number of transportation officials called on the administration to cut red tape in order to speed up regional infrastructure development.

John Horsely, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told Reuters the sector may not see relief from the Jobs Act immediately because of burdensome regulations.

“We are very interested in any relief the president and his agencies can give us on the red tape that usually ties our projects up for years,” John Horsely, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told Reuters. “I’ve characterized the process we’ve been going through as one step forward, two steps back.”

Approximately 50 transportation projects could be deemed high priority by the federal government, which could help create tens of thousands of immediate jobs.

Maryland biotechnology companies are hiring

Biotechnology hirings in Maryland seem to be on the rise as many firms are looking to bring in experienced workers.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, several companies throughout the state have high numbers of jobs listed on job boards, including some that are specifically geared towards biotechnology jobs as well as careers in pharmaceuticals.

As of Friday, April 1, MedImmune LLC had 210 jobs listed. A number of these positions are for administrative posts at the Gaithersburg-based company. According to the company’s website, the company firm does everything from “research and development, to state-of-the-art manufacturing, to product commercialization.”

SAIC-Frederick reportedly has 16 job openings listed on job boards. This company, which specializes in the development of treatments for AIDS and cancer, is looking to fill a variety of positions, including a director of drug development and a research associate.

Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences is looking to bring in eight new employees to fill posts such as research associate, drug systems manager and drug safety systems manager.

Life Technologies is hoping to find new scientists to help fill its 10 openings, according to the news provider.

Jobs added for the construction of Tennessee chemical plant

A chemical manufacturer recently announced an increase in the amount of construction jobs that will be needed for the construction of its new Tennessee plant.

US Nitrogen LLC, which is a recently formed subsidiary of Austin Powder, Inc., will more than double the number of construction workers needed to build the plant in Greene County. In February the company had initially announced that it would hire 125 workers to build the facility, which will produce ammonium nitrate solution.

“They have revised their original numbers and will now hire 300 construction workers,” said Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the Greene County Partnership. “In addition, the capital investment increase will result in several million additional dollars being pumped into the local economy. That’s great economic development news for our region of East Tennessee. It’s a further vote of confidence and a real boost for the local workforce.”

According to a press release, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty had welcomed the construction of the plant during a February press conference.

The annual payroll of the facility is estimated to be $4 million.