While some people still think of manufacturing as old buildings, old machines, and older people, the reality is new state-of the-art facilities, new technologies, talent of all ages, and world-leading products.
That’s the lesson Connecticut manufacturers must take to state legislators in order to help move proposals that will boost industry in the state, leaders of the General Assembly’s Manufacturing Caucus said this week in a program that kicked off Manufacturing & Technology Day at the State Capitol.
Caucus co-chairs State Sen. Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) and Rep. Selim Noujaim (R-Waterbury) spoke to the manufacturers, as did Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
[Photo above: Capri Frank, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Miller Foods, asks a question during the Manufacturing & Technology Day program.]
Just three years old, the bipartisan manufacturing caucus already has some impressive successes and this year is promoting legislation to make the manufacturing apprenticeship tax credit more usable and help develop more brownfield sites.
The caucus was instrumental in passage of the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which this year launched a voucher program offering financial assistance for innovative projects to help manufacturers become more profitable, productive, and efficient.
The caucus also successfully worked to upgrade and improve the state’s Manufacturing Reinvestment Account (MRA) program that gives certain manufacturers a tax break on funds they set aside for reinvesting in their businesses.
The caucus also is working to help expand Connecticut’s talent pool, and specifically, work to change courses in higher education to match the real need of manufacturers.
Hartley said the legislature is heading into an intense three-week dash to adjournment, and she referenced how the Finance Committee’s tax proposals won’t help Connecticut’s manufacturers or economy.
Alluding to the proposals to change state tax policy, on which many Connecticut job-creators depend for long-range plans, Hartley said “you don’t just start something unless you can sustain it; our record is very weak on that. Programs need to be long-term, not for a year [and then change them.]”
DECD Commissioner Smith said the agency continues to focus on enhancing the state’s “sweet spots”—Connecticut’s talent, corporate anchors, and location. “We want to build on our strengths,” said Smith.
Along that line, she said, the state’s agreement with United Technologies to secure the presence of Pratt & Whitney in the state for years to come “will have a ripple effect throughout the state’s economy.”
The deal will benefit thousands of supply chain companies—including small and midsize manufacturers—in Connecticut.
She said the agency’s programs concentrate on developing key business sectors—such as manufacturing--and meeting the greatest needs.
Smith also champions “simplifying government” through the use of Lean practices, and collaborating with key partners in education, energy and transportation to focus on all aspects of growing the state’s economy.
After the program, nearly 40 Connecticut manufacturers displayed their products and services to Gov. Dannel Malloy and state lawmakers, in exhibits that took over much of the Capitol’s ground floor.