Lawmakers searching for ways to address Connecticut’s economic challenges should look at other states’ best practices and see what might be adapted here.
Like North Carolina’s, for example. Several experts at Governor Malloy’s Economic Summit pointed to North Carolina’s Research Triangle as an example of what forward-thinking economic policy can accomplish.
There, a partnership among state government, private industry, and academia that started in 1959 has led to a physical infrastructure near three major universities designed to attract R&D-oriented companies. Today, Research Triangle Park comprises more than 170 firms with 38,000 employees.
In fact, Connecticut already is making strides toward the North Carolina model.
Our outstanding universities and diverse economic base—what Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter calls an “enormous breadth of sophisticated businesses”—make it likely that Bioscience Connecticut in Farmington, the technology park in Storrs, along with Yale’s efforts to support growth in the greater New Haven region (particularly in the biosciences), will lead to a Research Triangle of our own.
However, we can’t overlook that behind North Carolina’s economic transformation is one of the most business-friendly states in the country. The Tar Heel state placed third, for example, in CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business 2011 rankings; Connecticut was well behind, at 39th.
North Carolina’s success flows largely from its willingness to attract and nurture economic-base industries–not by micromanaging them with unnecessary regulations or adopting policies that add to their costs.
Adapting that kind of strategy is Connecticut’s best bet for creating a new climate for jobs.
Best practices can teach us, and Connecticut’s dynamic economic base can encourage us, but we will not move forward if we don’t support that base and remove barriers to its growth.
Governor Malloy’s Jobs Tour, economic summit, and special legislative session could be the beginning of a strong effort to adopt policies that change the perception of Connecticut as unfriendly to business. [CBIA’s recommendations on how to create a climate for jobs.]
The question isn’t whether we know what steps to take, but whether we have the political will to take them.
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