A Focus On Economic Development

2/27/2006

The state of our state, I am proud to say, is strong indeed – but there is much we can do to make it stronger yet. First and foremost, we must address the issue of jobs and economic development.

Just as we have restored the people's confidence in their state government, together we will strengthen their confidence in job security and our economic future.

Join me in transforming Connecticut into a national model for job creation and economic growth.

Two years ago, we ranked near the bottom in job creation nationally. We have worked hard in the last 18 months and we have created 24,600 new jobs. That’s real progress, substantive progress, but we want to be the national leader in creating quality jobs for our workers.

Let me tell you how I see this in human terms. I believe that every single hard-working person in our state who is searching but cannot find a quality job is one person too many. I believe that every single hard-working person who receives a pink slip, whether it’s from Stop & Shop or Electric Boat or U.S. Repeating Arms or any other business, is one person too many.

I believe that our economy is not about statistics or rankings or percentages. It's about people - people who want to raise their families in security and with dignity. It is for these people and their families that we must do better. And we will do better.

Our state is blessed with a wealth of resources: a highly skilled workforce; excellent schools, colleges and universities; a prime location on the Eastern seaboard; companies that are world leaders in technology, innovation, and financial services; and many cultural and recreational opportunities.

Connecticut has led the nation in economic prosperity, and we will continue to lead the nation, but only if we better utilize our resources and better respond to a constantly changing economy.

We need to make sure that the companies now operating in Connecticut want to stay here and expand here, and we need to let companies all over the world know that our great state is the perfect place to do business.

We need to make the right investments in job training and skill development. We need to provide roads and rails and airports where our workers can easily get to work. We need to provide affordable housing near places of employment. We need to break down the barriers of over-regulation and bureaucratic obstinacy.

Let there be no doubt, our core mission this session is a straightforward and critical one: to stimulate economic growth, retain good jobs, create new and even better jobs. Our mission begins anew today and my budget serves as a blueprint for that mission. We know what needs to be done – now we must show the will and the leadership to get it done.

First, I am calling for a major reorganization of how state government aids in economic development.

Right now there exists a complicated maze of economic development procedures, programs and policies. Under my budget, the many alphabet soup agencies will be reshaped and re-energized with a new command focus. The Department of Economic and Community Development will become the new Department of Business and Employment and will be given new tools to make it more responsive and more customer-oriented.

It will contain a new office of national and international commerce, a new CT Research Institute and a strong planning unit to coordinate housing development with job growth and transportation initiatives.

Also, the multiple financing authorities that businesses need to sift through will be streamlined into a new CT Finance Collaborative, providing a coordinated and user friendly approach to those seeking state assistance.

Further, as Connecticut’s CEO, I will personally take charge of building our economic future. I will work closely with our employers and with the Department of Business and Employment and the CT Finance Collaborative. I will also appoint a new Director of Economic Development who will be housed in my office and who will report directly to me.

Make no mistake about it: re-organizing is not enough. Businesses in the state and those considering moving here need to know that our corporate tax structure is both fair and consistent. Therefore, today I am calling for the early elimination of the surcharge on the corporate income tax.

We also need to encourage companies to take risks and to expand in Connecticut rather than elsewhere. My budget provides for two new important tax credit programs.

The first is the Job Creation Tax Credit. A company that creates 50 or more new jobs will be eligible for a tax credit based on the estimated withholding tax paid by the new employees. This provides an incentive to create jobs and ties it to a new source of revenue for the state.

The other is the Displaced Worker Tax Credit. A company will be able to take a credit against their corporate tax for hiring laid-off workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The skilled workers at Stop & Shop, U.S. Repeating Arms and Electric Boat, among others, deserve our best efforts to help them find new, well-paying jobs right here in Connecticut.

My budget includes several other initiatives that will help increase our competitiveness. These include:

  • $1.5 million for the 21st Century Jobs Program to customize job training for employers;
  • $150,000 for the Connecticut Career Resource Network to help to students, teachers and guidance counselors;
  • $250,000 for an expansion of the Connecticut Apprenticeship program to provide mentoring for businesses; and
  • $3 million for a new loan forgiveness program to encourage college students to choose work in "high needs" fields in Connecticut. 

$1.5 million of this program will be made available to students who plan on becoming math or science teachers, one of our true shortage areas.

Read the full State of the State address.


1/5/2006
Job Opportunity in East Hartford
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3/8/2006
Commerce Committee Public Hearing Agenda, March 9
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