CBIA BizCast: ‘Looking Through the Windshield’
“I think we have all the elements in place to really accelerate the growth and prosperity of the state, and I’m looking forward to doing whatever I can to help,” says Fuss & O’Neill CEO and newly elected CBIA board chair Kevin Grigg.
Grigg sat down with CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima for a special episode of the CBIA BizCast.
Grigg came to Connecticut more than a decade ago, after a difficult period for his family.
“My wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” he said. “And the initial diagnosis wasn’t really encouraging. So I had to be Mr. Mom for a year, stay home, take care of the kids, and do my best to nurse her back to health.”
As she recovered, a recruiter approached Grigg about an opportunity to become chief operating officer at Fuss & O’Neill.
Turning the Page
“We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Well, maybe this would be a good opportunity to kind of turn the page on the whole health crisis,’” he said.
Grigg said the move was “part adventure, part turn the page, and part very curious about living in one of the only parts of the country I’ve never lived in.”
He said the longer he’s lived here, he’s gotten “a greater appreciation for the individual sense of sort of independence that exists here.”
Grigg he was initially concerned that sense of independence would create a lack cooperation between the private and public sectors.
“That attitude seems to be changing on both sides,” he said. “Things seem to be moving in the right direction.”
“The Connecticut business community, I’ve always found, is very welcoming and open in that way,” added DiPentima.
“We needed government to be the same way and then the two to be able to talk to each other. I think we’re finally there in a really positive way.”
Grigg said his experience with Fuss & O’Neill has helped shape his perspective on a number of issues facing the business community, including social justice and climate change.
“These are things I never had to really address when I was coming up through the ranks,” he said.
“I think the whole mindset towards business has changed relative to what some people might have thought about 10,15, 20 years ago as being the green stuff or the soft stuff.
“I think now we’re recognizing that those things are in fact critical and not just ancillary.”
“Businesses are really embracing their role not just to make products or provide services and provide for their employees, but the impact they have in their communities, their state, the region, the United States, the world,” agreed DiPentima.
“And that’s a credit to the businesses that stepped up.”
Reasons for Optimism
DiPentima noted that between Connecticut’s strong fiscal health, public-private collaboration, and 57,000 new residents coming into the state last year, there is a lot of optimism for the state’s economy.
“We’re always looking to do things or should be looking to do things that attract not just more companies, but more people, more potential employees to the state,” said Grigg.
He said for the state to achieve its economic goals, it’s important to focus on issues like housing, education and training, workforce development.
“This is kind of like the threshold of opportunity,” he said.
“And we need to walk through that door by making sure that we stay on top of a lot of these issues, represent the interests and concerns of our constituent businesses, but also work closely with the public sector, to make sure we’re getting the right kinds of things done for our citizens.”
Crossing the Threshold
One of the ways to cross that threshold, Grigg said, is through the CBIA Foundation.
The foundation is developing a long-term economic strategic plan for Connecticut.
Grigg said having a fiscally responsible plan will make the state a much more attractive place to live and work.
He added that addressing areas like healthcare and childcare, and helping people feel good about their jobs will make them more likely to stay.
“By putting the best heads together, agreeing to disagree on occasion, but still moving ahead for the best interests of the citizens of Connecticut, I think this is a really wonderful opportunity,” he said.
“We need to be looking through the windshield, and not the rearview mirror, because that’s where the opportunities lie.”
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