In her opening keynote address at Friday's Economic Summit & Outlook 2012 in Hartford, UConn President Susan Herbst told 560 business leaders that the state’s flagship university is positioned to dramatically increase its contribution to Connecticut’s economy.

Held at the Marriott Downtown Hartford Hotel, the summit was presented by CBIA and the Metro Hartford Alliance and sponsored by Webster Bank.

Alluding to the state’s recent investments in the Bioscience Connecticut initiative at the UConn Health Center in Farmington and a new technology park in Storrs, Herbst said every dollar the state invests in UConn and the Health Center results in a $5.05 increase in Connecticut’s gross state product.

States to Emulate

Prior to her appointment as UConn’s 15th president in Dec. 2010, Herbst was executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for the University System of Georgia, well-known as a powerful driver of economic development in that state.

Herbst is committed to transforming UConn into an institution with that kind of impact and praised Gov. Malloy’s vision for a Connecticut Research Triangle linking Storrs, Farmington, New Haven and points in between.

“Connecticut has staked out a strategy that promises the same kind of economic growth and stability that exists at North Carolina’s Research Triangle,” she said.

North Carolina is frequently cited as a model for Connecticut to replicate, but a big part of that state’s success was its favorable business climate—its willingness to attract and nurture high-growth industries by not micromanaging them with unnecessary regulations or adopting policies that add to their costs.

Nick Perna, economic advisor to Webster Bank, told the audience Connecticut needs to do the same and that enticing winning companies to locate here requires creating a winning business environment.

Storrs Tech Park

Herbst described the Storrs technology park—slated for completion in 2015—as a facility that will “bring together world-class scholars and researchers with men and women who are creating startup businesses.”

“Specifically,” said Herbst, “the park is designed to spark the development and commercialization of new ideas for manufacturing and advanced product development in such industries as aerospace, defense, biotechnology, and energy.”

The anchor facility—known as the Innovation Partnership Building—will be built on a 300-acre parcel on the UConn campus and provide large, flexible-use laboratories with highly specialized equipment to top academic researchers and industry scientists.

It is expected to generate hundreds of new jobs during the design and construction phase and many more going forward.