New London – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy sailed into the city Monday, stopping at Fort Trumbull State Park to kick off a statewide campaign to raise money for OpSail2012CT.
"This portion of the state has not been at the forefront of some people's minds,'' Malloy said to a contingent of nearly 100 OpSail organizers and supporters who gathered in the conference center of Fort Trumbull. "New London is such a beautiful community. I'm committed to have New London recognized for all the great things that go on here."
The July 6-9 event is expected to draw thousands to the region to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the state's significance in American history. The Navy will be part of the celebration, bringing Navy vessels to join international tall ships in a parade of sail from Niantic to New London.
In February, Malloy offered a maximum of $500,000 in state money, matching $1 for every $2 raised.
"We are very much committed to this OpSail event,'' he said.
Brian Dennehy, a native of the state, is the celebrity spokesperson for OpSail and will be featured in public service announcements on radio and television asking residents to donate to the event.
Donations can be made to www.OpSail2012CT.or or by calling (860) 447-2519.
Malloy also toured the sprawling Coca-Cola distribution plant in Waterford today, where he was told by officials there that the new complex has been an important addition to this region's business base.
The plant, which is run by Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Southeastern New England, employs about 110 and distributes more than 3 million cases of Coca-Cola products each year to central and eastern Connecticut as well as western Rhode Island.
As Malloy toured the cavernous distribution complex off Waterford Parkway South, employees said hello and shook his hand.
Steven K. Perrilli, the plant's general manager and nearly three-decade Coke employee, said that when the plant first considered moving from its older distribution facility in New London, it was courted by Rhode Island.
"But we wanted to be in Connecticut, we wanted to create jobs in Connecticut," he told a smiling Malloy.
The plant opened this past May, and the new centralized location, according to Perrilli, allows the soft-drink distributor to combine operations formerly housed in New London, Middletown and West Greenwich, R.I., into a more efficient and productive building than its longtime home in New London.