As the weak jobs numbers from the Department of Labor continue to point out, it’s crucial that state policymakers take bold steps to restore business confidence in Connecticut and unlock the private sector investments that will generate sustainable job creation across a range of industry sectors.

The governor asked that all state agencies participate in efforts to promote a strong economic recovery in Connecticut—a directive we wholeheartedly support.

The challenge facing the state is far too formidable to be left to the economic development agencies alone.

We are encouraged that key members of Gov. Malloy’s administration acknowledged the need to work together to promote a better business climate by, among other things, addressing regulatory issues that are often a barrier to economic growth.

Regulatory landscape

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty tells CBIA that his department “has already begun to streamline permitting to make Connecticut a more friendly place for new economic activity.”

Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan and Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes are also involved in the effort to make the state’s regulatory landscape easier for Connecticut companies to navigate.

Barnes believes OPM can help by making Connecticut’s tax climate more predictable.

“We can put the state on a sound fiscal footing so that businesses need not face the kind of uncertainty in tax policy that has plagued Connecticut for too many years,” he said recently.

And Sullivan wants to take steps that will change attitudes toward DRS and help create a tax climate more conducive to economic growth and job creation.

“We want to be a partner with the business community, with taxpayers. We are DRS, not the tax collector, and that’s a change,” Sullivan told CBIA.

Door open for business

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, in a recent interview for the CBIA Business Minute, said he views jobs and job creation as the number one issue in the state.

“My door will always be open to businesses,” said Jepsen. “It’s important to set the proper tone and make sure businesses feel welcome. I want this to be a business-friendly state.”

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith accompanied the governor to a series of meetings with the business community this summer, listening to their concerns.

She also worked hard to involve other state agencies in DECD’s plans, including DEEP and the Department of Transportation.

“We have monthly meetings where we talk about longer-range plans for economic and transit development,” says Smith, “but we also look at day-to-day issues.”

Steep climb

These are all positive developments, but the climb back to prosperity for Connecticut is steep.

Fortunately, our experience to date has been that state department heads have been very receptive to input from the business community and have taken action based on suggestions from business leaders.

We look forward to continued, productive collaboration and encourage businesspeople to contact state agencies as well as their legislators about how they can make it easier for businesses to do what they do best: create jobs and drive Connecticut’s economy. -- John R. Rathgeber

John R. Rathgeber is president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. He can be reached at john.rathgeber@cbia.com.