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February 28, 2022

Waterbury-based marine chemicals company seeks $1M from state lawmakers

Photo | Contributed Drew Marine President and CEO Frank Monteiro at a March 2021 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Drew Marine research labs in Waterbury.

A marine chemicals and services company is angling for a $1 million grant from the legislature to expand in Waterbury.

In May 2020, Drew Marine President and CEO Frank Monteiro announced plans to build manufacturing, warehousing and research facilities in Waterbury. The promise was to bring 50 jobs.

Not quite a year later, Monteiro invited local political heavyweights and press to leased industrial space in Waterbury to celebrate completion of research facilities, the last step in an $8.2 million retrofit of the building.

Now, Waterbury-area legislators are forwarding a bill that would funnel $1 million to the company through the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Five Democrats in Waterbury’s legislative delegation introduced the bill to the General Assembly’s Commerce Committee. It is up for a hearing Wednesday.

Sen. Joan V. Hartley (D-Waterbury)  is co-chair of that committee and a sponsor.

Hartley said it is meant to help support and grow a new and unique industry in Connecticut that has brought high-paying jobs to the city.

Drew Marine produces chemicals and solutions used by ships, such as purification of ballast water before discharge. When it opened in Waterbury, those operations were focused on the largest ships, including warships, cargo ships and the cruise industry. The company has since expanded into large leisure craft.

According to the text of the bill, the grant is “for a supply chain specialty chemical and water treatment manufacturing facility and global research and development laboratory for the marine industry.”

The state grant will enable Drew to expand its production in Waterbury, buying equipment and, among other things, moving a product bottling operation from Florida to Connecticut, according to Jason Van Stone, a company spokesman.

Van Stone said the company employs up to 65 employees in its Waterbury facility and administrative offices in Naugatuck. Drew has already spent more than $10 million outfitting its Waterbury facility, Van Stone said. The company produced more than 1 million kilograms of product in 2021 and is on track to far exceed that in 2022, Van Stone said.

The addition of equipment through the grant could lead to a second shift at the Waterbury plant, Van Stone said. He was unable to say how many additional jobs that might entail.

“The opportunity here is to stretch this production facility into a more robust one,” Van Stone said.

Drew Marine has been roundly praised by Waterbury-area officials for bringing high-paying jobs to the area, as well as its sustained involvement in local charitable and philanthropic efforts.

“These are well-paying, professional jobs,” Hartley said. “There is a great opportunity here and we are really excited about trying to help.”

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