story & photos
by John Stratton
More than 250 business and civic leaders heard Governor Dannel P. Malloy offer a straight-from-the-shoulder assessment of the state’s future at an early, snowy morning breakfast sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut on January 16.
The Business Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Norwich also featured short presentations by Tony Silvestri of New London Harbour Towers; James Sullivan, Chairman of the Connecticut Municipal Electrical Energy Cooperative; and Captain Marc Denno, commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base. Each has a strong stake in Connecticut’s prosperity as an industrial and business power.
The governor led off with a tribute to the Navy and to submarines, asserting that, “The state’s relationship with the Navy at the Base is as good as it’s ever been…and we’ll do everything we can to strengthen our relationship with the Base and Electric Boat. The Navy will become ever more dependent on submarines to fulfill national defense.” He noted that “fifty thousand people in Connecticut have jobs in the military, or are deeply dependent on them.”
Resolution of the state’s fiscal deficits, he said, will be essential to its future stability and job growth.
The governor pointed to his upcoming February 5 plan to “present a balanced budget with no new taxes, although some [existing] taxes may be extended.” There have been corresponding cuts in government employment, he said, noting that “the executive branch of the state government has 1,200 fewer jobs” than when he took office. He cited “efficiency and productivity” improvements, including $250 million in investments in information technology and computer modernizations, as making that streamlining possible.
Looking back, he said that Connecticut had “failed to grow jobs on a net basis” because “we had no [economic development] strategy,” but that an outreach to many small companies and a dozen large companies and organizations has begun to bear fruit in investment and jobs. The philosophy is based on an “innovation ecosystem” that includes education at the university level as well as “pre-literacy” programs for children entering kindergarten.
“Change is hard in Connecticut,” he smiled, “but our economic development programs are successful—they are leading us to ‘make product, and sell it!’”