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December 7, 2021

CT’s first-ever manufacturing czar Cooper stepping down, to retire

Sean Teehan | Hartford Business Journal Chief Manufacturing Officer Colin Cooper speaks at a Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce event in Farmington.

Colin Cooper, a well-known Connecticut executive who became the state’s first-ever chief manufacturing officer, is stepping down from his state role, the Hartford Business Journal has learned. 

Cooper confirmed to HBJ he’ll be leaving his post in the coming months to retire.

Cooper was named the state’s manufacturing czar in 2019 by Gov. Ned Lamont. 

“When I was offered this position with the state in late 2019, I was in the process of retiring from my aerospace manufacturing career and I subsequently delayed retirement and made a two-year commitment to serve as the state’s first CMO,” Cooper told HBJ Tuesday morning. “This fall, as I approached my two-year anniversary, I spoke with [Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner] David Lehman about my plans to retire and we agreed that I would help identify candidates for my replacement and work toward an orderly transition. I expect that my successor will be announced in the next month or so and I will work with that person on a transition plan and timing.”  

The chief manufacturing officer role was created by state lawmakers in 2019 to coordinate state and private-sector efforts to educate and support the next generation of skilled manufacturers. It initially called for a two-year appointment of a manufacturing director within the state Department of Economic and Community Development. 

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association spent years lobbying for the creation of the position, particularly as the industry has faced a major workforce shortage. 

Cooper, a former Pratt & Whitney engineer and executive chairman of Eastford’s Whitcraft Group, was one of 10 finalists for the job.

Prior to joining Whitcraft, Cooper was a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal Inc., a nationally recognized crisis management and turnaround consulting firm specializing in operational and financial restructurings and before that he worked as an associate in corporate finance for Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. 

He began his career as a design engineer for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Cooper has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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