Fawcett tours Sandy Hook company

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State Senate candidate Kim Fawcett, left, joins Curtis Packaging President and CEO Don Droppo on a tour of the company’s facility in Sandy Hook.

State Rep. Kim Fawcett, who is running for the 28th District Senate seat, joined Curtis Packaging President and Chief Executive Officer Don Droppo on Oct. 14 for a tour of the company’s Sandy Hook facility as part of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s (CBIA) 20×17 economic-development initiative.

CBIA’s 20×17 is a nonpartisan effort to make Connecticut a more economically competitive state for the benefit of all residents.

Curtis Packaging has been in operation since 1845 and provides packaging for such brands as Titleist and Chanel. The company employs more than 140 workers and, in 2007, became the first 100% carbon-neutral packaging company in North America.

While the company’s sales have doubled over the past decade, Droppo, a former CBIA chairman, said he is concerned about replacing retiring employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years, with young people who are inadequately trained for careers in the industry.

“In the past, there were schools that would teach printing and give students experience on the equipment, but those are few and far between now,” Droppo said. “People would be amazed at what it takes to create luxury packaging for the world’s most discernible brands. We have a real precision manufacturing process. While we’ve worked hard to bring on young people in apprenticeship programs, there needs to be more effort to provide quality vocational education in Connecticut. That’s why a top priority of the CBIA’s 20×17 initiative is to attract and ‘create a pipeline of skilled talent’ that can jump-start our economy by providing secure and well-paying jobs.”

Fawcett said Curtis Packaging is a perfect example of how precision manufacturing can grow and is growing in Connecticut.

“State government can facilitate that growth by first lessening the bureaucracy and red tape involved in running businesses, but also by partnering with and investing in companies like Curtis Packaging to provide vocational education that will create jobs and fill them with Connecticut residents,” she said.

She praised CBIA’s 20×17 initiative as a great way to highlight the programs that have already gotten started in Connecticut as part of the 2011 Jobs Bill and are helping Connecticut to grow and diversify its economy.

“Companies like Curtis Packaging and executives like Don are at the forefront of that effort, and it’s great to see that firsthand,” Fawcett said.

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