CT Nonprofits Ponder Impact of Proposed United Technologies Merger, Corporate Relocation

The Connecticut Special Olympics, held earlier this month at four venues in the New Haven region of the state, included 2,500 athletes and unified partners, 500 coaches, and nearly 3,000 volunteers.  It is a start-of-summer tradition in Connecticut, a source of pride and accomplishment for decades.

The list of sponsors financially supporting the competition, held over a June weekend, includes nearly a dozen businesses, institutions of higher education, financial institutions and media companies.  Topping the list, as presenting sponsor, is United Technologies (UTC).  The company has been a Special Olympics sponsor in Connecticut for 42 years.

One of the many questions surrounding the pending merger between UTC and Massachusetts-headquartered Raytheon, announced almost simultaneously with this year’s Special Olympics, is what happens next year?  Will the merged company, Raytheon Technologies, continue to support nonprofit organizations in Connecticut to the extent that UTC has, in many instances, for decades.  That remains a question not only at Special Olympics, but at nonprofit organizations large and small throughout the state.

When the corporate headquarters settles in greater Boston, as is planned, will the corporate dollars supporting the nonprofit community leave, or lessen, as well?

The company’s 2018 Annual Report indicates that UTC “refocused our community commitments to prioritize two areas: Investing in Our Future and Investing in Our Communities.”  The sustainability portion of the corporate website points out that “each year, United Technologies contributes financial gifts, products and volunteer hours to a range of causes and community organizations around the world. We do this not for recognition or opportunity, but simply because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Corporate leaders have said in recent weeks that other than 100 or so corporate leaders who would relocate to the Boston area, the company’s Connecticut workforce would remain here – and will even expand in the coming years with additional hiring.  That commitment suggests that Connecticut will remain among “the communities in which we operate,” as UTC has described its ongoing support of organizations such as Special Olympics, or the Hartford Youth Service Corps, which creates a part-time, year-round employment opportunity for young people ages 16 to 24, or the 2019 FIRST® Robotics New England District Competition was held at Hartford Public High School, held in April - UTC’s 24th season sponsoring FIRST and providing support and mentors to teams locally and globally.

“United Technologies enhances the well-being of the communities in which we operate because we believe positive engagement encourages growth and vitality. We do this through financial contributions, employee volunteerism and support of the organizations and people who share in our mission,” the website points out. UTC volunteers are among the many individuals who volunteer each year at Special Olympics, officials indicated.

Gov. Lamont last week praised UTC CEO Greg Hayes for “UTC’s continued commitment to Connecticut, as well as the skills and ingenuity of our workforce.”   The Otis division is to be spun off prior to the merger, with plans to remain in Connecticut, with headquarters in Farmington.  Carrier, also being spun off, has relocated its headquarters from Farmington to Palm Beach, FL. 

Traditionally, UTC grants to nonprofit organizations have been made available in three primary areas: building sustainable cities, advancing education in the areas of science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM), and improving communities. All projects seeking funding must provide support in communities where UTC employees work and live, according to published reports. 

The Connecticut Open tennis tournament in New Haven, formerly the Pilot Pen, was presented by United Technologies in recent years at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.  The tournament departed Connecticut for China after last year.

Earlier this year, the STEMIE Coalition’s National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) named United Technologies Corporation as the presenting sponsor of this year’s competition, held last month in Michigan.  An outgrowth of the best-in-class Connecticut Invention Convention which UTC has sponsored for decades, the National Invention Convention presented by United Technologies is a cornerstone collaboration in the company’s STEM investment strategy, the company’s website highlighted last week.