Pro-Jobs, Pro-Economy Effort from Commerce Committee

03.16.2012
Issues & Policies

Building on last fall’s special jobs session, the legislature's Commerce Committee this week approved several measures aimed at creating jobs and growing Connecticut’s economy—such as its signature bill SB 1.

The multi-faceted proposal expands eligibility for the many loan programs and grants adopted in the jobs session to businesses with up to 100 employees.

SB 1 also promotes tourism and Connecticut-made products, and creates a grant for businesses looking to hire and train returning combat veterans. (A previously troubling section of this bill that would have exposed employers to increased legal liability in making hiring decisions was significantly modified and is no longer a concern.)

SB 80 expands the authority of the top executives of Connecticut’s higher education institutions to create technology “test beds” at their schools by purchasing emerging technology for testing and evaluation.

A related bill (SB 224) establishes a partnership between higher education and businesses to create advanced manufacturing technologies.

Under the proposal, eligible small (up to 50 employees) and midsize (51 to 100 employees) businesses can participate in a program at the University of Connecticut that opens university resources—such as facilities, equipment, staff, and students– for their research and development efforts.

SB 222 creates a regulatory fairness board of business community representatives to advise the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development and the legislature of the impact of various state business regulations and enforcement activities.

And in an effort to retain Connecticut's talented young people, the committee is proposing (SB 78) to expand the Learn Here, Live Here program. The program provides incentives to encourage graduates of more higher education institutions in the state to purchase their first homes in Connecticut.

Regional power

This week the committee also heard testimony on SB 121, which requires the state to fund and provide services to regional economic districts to support their development strategies.

Many regions in Connecticut have adopted Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) as approved by businesses, state policymakers and the federal government through the U.S. Department of Commerce.

These strategies could have a positive effect on job creation and business growth, but the U.S. perennially underfunds the program. 

Because federal funding continues to be uncertain, SB 121 will allow regional districts to pursue alternative funding and give them more flexibility to independently contract and receive grants to accomplish their strategies.

Overall, the theme of the Commerce Committee this session seems to be: Build on success and create new opportunities for growth.

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