TIMPANELLI TOPICS - Issue 2015-01
The 2015 Connecticut Legislature has been in session now for over two months and the prospect of having a good year in terms of advancing statewide business interests is not exceptionally bright.
Our collective and continued dilemma is the regularly recurring challenge of balancing the Connecticut state budget. In other words, there is not enough revenue to satisfy what continues to be a never-ending appetite for spending.
Clearly, some progress has been made to turn around the economic fortunes of our state in the past four years or so. The state's business support and recruitment efforts have shown measurable results evidenced in a drop in the unemployment rate, which is now at its lowest level in six years.
Comparatively speaking, however, Connecticut continues to lag behind almost every other state in the country in job growth. That is why the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and a myriad of other state organizations, under the leadership of CBIA, have endorsed the efforts of CT 20 x 17, an initiative that sets a goal for Connecticut to rank in the Top 20 states in the country for hospitality to business by 2017. We currently rank in the bottom 10.
Our support for CT 20 x 17 is one of the five identified legislative priorities contained in the BRBC's 2015 Legislative Agenda drafted by our Government Relations and Transportation Committee and adopted by the Board of Directors in February.
The BRBC's Legislative Agenda - which includes a useful Directory of Public Officials - is now being distributed to all BRBC member businesses as well as to all legislators.
In addition to CT 20 x 17, the other identified priorities of our Legislative Agenda are as follows:
- Support funding for rail investments on the Metro North line;
- Support for Bridgeport's planned Barnum Train Station (this and Metro North rail investment are now a part of the Governor's transportation investment plan);
- Support the creation of a tax credit plan for Bridgeport's "Eco-Technology Park";
- Oppose the implementation of a property tax on not-for-profit institutions and support the elimination or reduction of the hospital tax.
As the legislative session progresses, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council will continue to monitor these issues and will appear before the appropriate committees to provide supportive testimony with two public hearings scheduled for this week.
Clearly, we recognize that our efforts this year to achieve positive results with regard to our identified priorities will be extremely challenging. Each of these initiatives has either increased spending or decreased revenue implications, which in such a difficult budget-balancing year will be tough to achieve.
That is why it is all-the-more important for the recommendations of the CT 20 x 17 initiative be seriously considered. If adopted, these recommendations will decrease state spending and help to provide an environment in which jobs will grow - ultimately increasing state revenues.
The Bridgeport Regional Business Council continues to remain committed to its role as a representative of our members in the halls of government, be it locally, statewide or even nationally as is evidenced in the range of events and initiatives we encourage our members to engage in.
Here are just a few of the BRBC's government-related programs and initiatives:
- The annual "Legislative/Chief Elected Officials Breakfast", at which more than 150 BRBC members were in attendance, was held on February 27.
- The BRBC hosts, in partnership with the Bridgeport, Stratford and Trumbull Chambers of Commerce, the Mayor of Bridgeport (held on March 12), the Mayor of Stratford (March 24) and the First Selectman of Trumbull (March 31), in their annual "Address to the Business Community".
- I attended, on behalf of our membership, a recent federal issues symposium hosted by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy in Washington D.C.
- And, members of our Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce are now appearing regularly before the Bridgeport City Council to advocate, promote and, showcase how important it is to understand and include the business community in Legislative and municipal planning.
On one such occasion recently, our own Denise Bukovan, Dean of Community Outreach for Housatonic Community College and BCC Board member, shared the BRBC's Quarterly Review of Economic Development or The QR with the Bridgeport City Council.
For those of you who don't know, The QR offers a quarterly update of key economic development projects underway in the Bridgeport Region. Projects that will result in jobs growth, tax base growth, and that will serve to build the regional economy.
These projects and those like them are the positive growth projects we want our legislators to support.
As a result of the generous support of our Sponsors, the BRBC prints The QR in June and December (27,000 annually), emails two digital updates in March and September, and we offer The QR right here on our website.
This March we updated 30 projects that we have been following over the past year and we have added nine new projects.
We hope you find both the Legislative Agenda/Directory of Elected Officials and The QR informative and useful.
I welcome your comments and questions on any and all of the above. Feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul S. Timpanelli
President and CEO
Bridgeport Regional Business Council