Announcing a merger that will see United Technologies Corp. move its headquarters to the Boston area from the state it has called home for nine decades, the chief executive offered assurances Monday that the new company will have a presence in Connecticut "for years to come."
But the symbolism of the move cut deeply in Connecticut, a state that is sensitive about its reputation as a place to do business following the departure of other companies including General Electric, which relocated from Fairfield to Boston.
Finger-pointing began at the Statehouse soon after Farmington-based UTC said Sunday that it would merge with Raytheon Co., based in Waltham, Massachusetts, to create a massive aerospace and defense company named Raytheon Technologies Corp.
Connecticut Republicans, long the minority party in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, seized on the news to renew criticism of the state's high taxes and state government's problems with deficits and debt. They also said recently passed legislation that created paid family medical leave and a higher minimum wage would place more burdens on businesses.
"It's not a proud moment," said Deputy House Republican leader Vincent Candelora.
Democratic leaders downplayed the announcement and noted the bulk of the company's jobs will stay in the state.
"It's a matter of Boston being a magnet of all kinds," Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said. "I think if we were looking at a move to Springfield, Worcester, or Chicopee we would have more reason to be concerned or to be self-reflective."
Looney noted Massachusetts has many of the same policies Connecticut is pursuing, including paid family medical leave and a scheduled $15 per hour minimum wage.
Nearly all of the 19,000 Connecticut employees of United Technologies and its subsidiaries will remain in the state, while about 100 top executives and other workers will move to the new headquarters.
The new company will have a portfolio that includes F-35 fighter jet engines, Patriot and Tomahawk missile systems, space suits, intelligence technology as well as the Pratt & Whitney engines used in both commercial and military aircraft.
Greg Hayes, the United Technologies chairman and CEO who will become the chief executive of the combined company, told investors during a conference call Monday that "Raytheon Technologies will maintain a strong presence in Connecticut for years to come."
While Massachusetts offered incentives for General Electric to move to Boston, no such aid was offered to UTC and Raytheon, Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said.
United Technologies has deep roots in Connecticut and its businesses — Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace, Otis elevators and Carrier heating, cooling and security _ have created thousands of indirect jobs at local businesses. The corporation, which dates to the late 1920s, is spinning off the Carrier and Otis divisions and plans to complete those moves next year.
Connecticut, known for its high per-capita wealth, has a rich manufacturing history that includes Colt firearms, Stanley Black & Decker tools, Seth Thomas clocks and Electric Boat submarines.
But business advocates worry that history is being tarnished as corporate headquarters leave the state.
Besides General Electric, MassMutual announced last year that it will be closing a major office in Enfield, on a date yet to be announced, as it expands operations in Massachusetts. On Friday, New Britain-based gun maker Stag Arms announced it will leave Connecticut for a location, which it did not disclose, that offers "significant support for the firearms industry."
Last year, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. relocated its headquarters from New Haven to Boston, citing cost savings despite $26 million in economic development aid from Connecticut.
"This serves as reminder that we live in an increasingly competitive economy, domestically and internationally," Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said in a statement. "As such, it's critical we invest in education, workforce development, and our transportation infrastructure to stay competitive."