With no net job creation here in two decades, Connecticut needs jobs. Our editorial and five other views on this page offer thoughts on getting people back to work. We'd like to hear what you think is the key to creating jobs as well: Email 200 words or less to
We'll publish the best responses.
, just off I-91 in
, has one of the answers to Connecticut's unemployment problem.
Though it seems incredible, with unemployment hovering around 9 percent, there are hundreds of good manufacturing jobs going begging in the state because of a shortage of trained workers. Asnuntuck's Manufacturing Technology Center is one of the very few programs that trains men and women to work with the computerized tools and electronic controls used in high-tech manufacturing.
The program graduates 200 full-time students a year. "There is no doubt that if I had 600 to 700 students, I could get them all placed," said Frank Gulluni, the center's director.
says job creation and economic development are his top priorities. He's more heavily engaged in this than any governor in recent memory. He's meeting with business leaders and holding jobs tours around the state to listen to employers and workers; created a "First Five" incentive program for companies to create jobs; announced a major bioscience initiative at the
; and engineered a $20 million deal to keep at least 2,000 jobs with Swiss banking giant
in the state. On Friday, Mr. Malloy announced that Maine-based Jackson Laboratory would build a $1.1 billion lab on the UConn Health Center campus in
, a major coup.
The next step is an all-day "jobs summit" Thursday in Hartford. The summit will be followed by a special session of the legislature later in the month, where the administration will be looking for initiatives to help businesses create 26,000 jobs next year.
All of this is a good start, but as Mr. Malloy himself said, there is still a lot of work to do.
Getting Off The Dime
Connecticut has been resting on long-wilted laurels, with no net job growth since 1990. Critics of the "First Five" program say it is piecemeal and fails to improve the general business environment. Although he might have drawn the line at TicketNetwork — if reselling tickets is a big part of the state's economic future, we may be in real trouble — Mr. Malloy had to show, with the program's tax breaks and low-interest loans, that he was out there, meant business and was willing to take risks and make deals.
Part of the challenge is to get a message out, and so meeting with the owners of large and small businesses has been essential. "CEOs want to be in a place where government is agile and is paying attention to them, paying attention to the changing world," says Matthew Nemerson, president and CEO of the
Face-to-face meetings, however, aren't enough. Mr. Malloy and the legislature have to make this state less forbidding to businesses trying to navigate its rules. The governor and his commissioners have vowed to see where state regulations needlessly inhibit business, and to pay more attention to small and medium-sized business.
Mr. Malloy dilutes that message, however, with his strong support for paid sick leave for service workers, for unionizing child-care workers and home-care attendants, and other actions opposed by businesses.
Customized Training For Companies
The state's efforts can't stop with removing obstacles to job growth. If there is a need for hundreds of people who can run "computer numerical control" machine tools, start the training. Expand the Asnuntuck program or start another one. We should be able to customize training for companies coming to the state. These are good-paying jobs.
In this way and others, the governor must support the manufacturing sector.
The companies doing well, by and large, are those involved in exports. "Connecticut's small and mid-sized manufacturers are the jewels in the crown," said
finance professor Susan Coleman, who studies small business. If these companies, which make up the bulk of the state's 5,000 manufacturing companies, were properly supported, "this could be a golden age for manufacturing."
Connecticut is blessed with many resources, such as world-class universities and bioscience clusters. The challenge is making them work together. There are promising signs.
President Susan Herbst has created the new position of vice president for economic development, which will advance the university's collaboration with industry and bring breakthroughs to market.
The legislature approved Mr. Malloy's proposal to change the governing structure of
, which should help develop its economic potential. One step should be a regular flight to
. With direct transportation and highly skilled workers, Connecticut becomes a more appealing place for European companies to locate North American manufacturing facilities.
The final challenge is place-making. If business is going to grow here, the state must remain a nice place to live. To generate new business ideas and keep young people here, it needs vibrant and interesting cities.
have made great strides, and Hartford is finally moving. The Malloy administration has people, notably Executive Director of Culture and Tourism Christopher "Kip" Bergstrom, who understand this.
Government doesn't create jobs, but it can help those who do. Mr. Malloy is fighting the right battle.