Malloy business task force lays out key goals

By Anthony Cronin

Publication: The Day

Published 01/05/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 01/06/2011 09:13 AM

A new report to Gov.-elect Dan Malloy offers a sweeping set of recommendations, including streamlining state agencies and revitalizing lagging urban centers, to jump-start Connecticut’s recession-battered economy.

The report, developed by Malloy’s Jobs and Economic Development Working Group, offers strong language on the state of this state’s economy, saying the “list of needs is long” for putting in place an effective economic development plan that will allow Connecticut to effectively compete in a global 21st-century economy.

“Overshadowing all the specific programs and policies that need to be put in place is the state’s financial situation,” says the 15-page report. “Without direct, swift and certain actions here, economic development and the job creation it brings will remain a cherished goal, and nothing more.”

The jobs and economic development working group is co-chaired by Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, and Chandler Howard, the president and chief executive officer of the Middletown-based Liberty Bank.

Both were tapped by Malloy to head the economic-development working group, one of a dozen so-called working groups developed by the incoming governor to assist his administration in developing policies for key areas, from economic development to housing and tourism.

Connecticut is in need of strong job creation and economic development, having lost nearly 100,000 jobs during the Great Recession, which began in Connecticut in March 2008. In addition, Connecticut’s $200 billion-plus economy hasn’t seen any real net job growth for some two decades, according to economists, and faces high energy and labor costs, burdensome regulations and an aging transportation system.

The working-group report was released Tuesday to the regional chamber’s board of trustees and its benefactors.

Sheridan, in an accompanying note to the report, said job creation and economic development were “arguably the number one challenge” facing Malloy’s new administration.

“Although the time was short, we put in place a process that resulted in a wide variety of recommendations,” said Sheridan. “We did so with the recognition that there will be no easy solutions to the challenges facing our state.”

Sheridan said Connecticut’s difficult fiscal condition – it’s facing a staggering $3.6 billion budget deficit – represents an “enormously difficult task” for the governor-elect.

The working group recommends that Connecticut sweep aside its parochial considerations, which can pit one community against another, and needs to look toward more regional solutions to its needs and concerns.

It calls for the development of a “Team Connecticut” spirit toward job creation and economic development. The report says both the public and private sectors need to work together toward streamlining economic development – the report cites a dizzying total of 33 state agencies currently tasked with economic development – and need to work collectively toward Connecticut’s economic resurgence, especially in vital industries such as insurance and financial services, life sciences and medical devices as well as aerospace.

The working group maintains that a return to economic vibrancy across Connecticut must be the Malloy administration’s top concern.

“None of these needs is more important than a demonstrated commitment at the very pinnacle of state government to building a secure economic future,” the report emphasizes. “Without such leadership , any effort in this area will be marginalized.”

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