Connecticut is, and always has been, one of the most innovative states in the nation—in fact we’re No. 5 in the U.S., according to the latest Bloomberg State Innovation Index.
We can also see innovation all around us every day.
Drive over the Goldstar Memorial Bridge in New London, and watch a nuclear submarine head out to sea.
Head to Bradley International Airport and know that General Electric or Pratt & Whitney engines are probably powering your vacation or business flight.
Go to your pharmacy for a prescription, and realize that the research and development done to create that medicine may very well have been conducted at one of Connecticut's many biopharma R&D facilities.
Despite our innovative history and the state’s beautiful land and seascapes, Connecticut is facing challenging times.
Businesses and residents are concerned about the state’s fiscal issues—will they be dealt with in a way that will restore confidence in our state? Or in a manner that encourages private-sector investment and job growth?
And is there anything we can do to help push things along in the right direction? The answer is yes.
Fix the Finances
First, Connecticut state lawmakers can and must develop a plan to address the state's uncertain fiscal climate.
We need sustainable structural spending reforms so that the state spends tax dollars on meeting its core responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
As the Connecticut legislature's Appropriations Committee works on their budget package, what else are policymakers doing to improve the state's economic climate?
The General Assembly's Finance Committee believes that focusing on innovation is the answer.
This week, the committee heard SB 1, An Act Concerning Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Connecticut’s Economic Future.
It aims to increase economic activity in Connecticut by nurturing entrepreneurs and innovation.
Connecticut state lawmakers can and must develop a plan to address the state's uncertain fiscal climate.
Boston, New York, and North Carolina’s research triangle often come up in discussions about creating entrepreneurial communities--all of them have been able to leverage their academic communities to spur innovation and collaboration with businesses.
We may not have the same number of universities as the metro areas, we still have the top-flight universities and leading-edge companies and entrepreneurs to create something special here in Connecticut.
We need to understand how to create that kind of environment and how to identify and overcome barriers to achieving it.
Make It Better
CBIA appreciates the fact that the legislature is looking at ways for the state to better embrace economic activity.
We do have some concerns, however.
For example, instead of creating a new state agency we should look first to maximizing or even broadening what we already have—within existing resources and structures.
In fact, at the end of the public hearing, the Senate chair said it was not his desire to create duplicative state agencies and therefore is open to receiving feedback for how best to accomplish the proposal’s goals.
What’s more, the current proposal unfortunately takes dollars away from the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund and the Manufacturing Assistance Act to fund SB 1.
Connecticut’s manufacturing community has been working closely with the state in an effort to increase the pipeline of skilled workers in the state—which is the lifeline for our innovative manufacturers and the state’s economic future.
Those manufacturing funds should remain in their existing programs.
Legislative leaders have asked for feedback on SB 1, so CBIA has started speaking with our members in an effort to determine if this proposal would achieve its goals—and if not, how could those goals be reached through this bill or other means?
We will share this information with legislators.
If you have any thoughts regarding the measure, or other ways to spur economic activity in our state, please share your ideas with us.