Everyone seemed to agree at the beginning of the session that jobs and the economy had to be the major focus in the legislature this year.
Several measures took direct aim at achieving those goals, while numerous others worked directly against them. One bill (HB-5435) offers a wide range of help to Connecticut’s small businesses. Among other things, it creates a:
- Small-business assistance revolving loan program
- Angel investor program to encourage burgeoning companies
- Pilot program to help manufacturing companies implement green and lean strategies
- Loan-forgiveness program for Connecticut graduates pursuing careers in green technology, life science, or health information technology.
Another bill, HB-5500 will help small businesses navigate state economic-development agencies more successfully. It sets up a Small Business Advisory Board to become single contact point for companies seeking financial and technical help from the state.
Among other things, the board will coordinate all state small business revolving loan funds and launch a web page connecting the dots on small business resources.
Making Connecticut’s biggest airport a bigger economic player is the aim of SB-107, which the legislature passed in the last week. It establishes an economic development zone area around Bradley International Airport and gives local municipalities tools—including tax breaks and exemptions for existing and startup manufacturing businesses—to lure businesses in.
However, despite how Connecticut’s economy and jobs have grown through the global marketplace, two bills this year ignored that economic fact.
Under the guise of protecting Connecticut jobs, SB-242 and SB-417 would have denied Connecticut companies the ability to do business with the state if some of that work was to be sourced outside of the U.S. or the state.
Both of these anti-jobs measures fortunately died at the end of the session when they were not taken up for final votes, but not after a tremendous amount of effort on both sides of the issue.