TIMPANELLI TOPICS - Issue 2016-01
There may be no such thing as a free breakfast but on Thursday, January 28, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council hosted our Regional Legislators and Chief Elected Officials for continental breakfast at Housatonic Community College. Thanks to the generosity of Aquarion and AT&T, we were able to offer this event to our members in attendance, as well as our elected officials, at no charge.
More than 130 attendees engaged in a general discussion on the state of our state with a good number of our legislators.
Let's not think for a moment that our elected officials are not expecting something from us from this event and that our members, in turn, are not expecting something from them.
Having been in this business for a few years now, I think I can safely say that I know what our member businesses want from our elected officials. They want hard work, dedication to duty, a commitment to do the right thing, a listening ear, and a dedicated sensitivity to what needs to be done to create an environment in our state that fosters a strong economy and job growth.
Unfortunately, over the recent past, most business people that I speak to think that most of our elected officials have not been sensitive to that last expectation.
The results of a recent survey to our members as well as the reaction to the announcement that GE corporate is leaving our state reinforces that most business people feel that there remains much to be done to improve Connecticut's environment for business.
That being said, the leadership of the Regional Business Council, as represented by our Government Relations and Transportation Committee, has recently had a few opportunities to meet with members of our legislative delegation. These meetings - which were well attended by both sides - were very productive and useful.
While agreement on what specifically needs to be done to improve the state's business environment was not achieved, we did develop a much better understanding of what was important to legislators and what they deemed were legislative victories achieved in the 2015 session.
Our Bridgeport delegation, for example, came away thinking that their actions resulted in bringing many new and expanded benefits to Bridgeport. The fact of the matter is, they were right. More revenue to a struggling city and tax relief resulting from a statewide approach to motor vehicle assessment, are two examples of actions that will benefit the central city, a goal that we can share.
However, business and government seem to differ with regard the bigger picture.
Over the short term, actions such as more money for Bridgeport and tax relief for car owners in the city do provide temporary relief. But, while this helps Bridgeport, the overall environment for jobs does not grow at a pace which makes Connecticut competitive. In the short term, Bridgeport benefits. Over the long term, the state suffers.
This has come about as a result of legislators acting on behalf of those they represent. In their world, they are serving their constituents. In our world - the business world - they are not serving the wider needs of the business community and the State of Connecticut.
I was reminded of this dichotomy last week when the BRBC's Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce Board hosted the City Council of Bridgeport at a meeting. In speaking with individual city council members, without exception, they were each interested in how their local districts were being served.
When I talked about Big Picture Economic Development progress in the city, many of these individuals asked how these projects impacted their district. I was struck by the prevalence of local districts verses the city, region and state.
The Bridgeport Regional Business Council will continue to work with all of Connecticut's legislative leaders and businesses to develop a business climate that is good for all of us.
In the coming weeks we will establish the BRBC's Annual Legislative Agenda to support as well as balance local and statewide needs for our businesses and our communities.
The BRBC Legislative Breakfast this week may not have cost anything to attend, but the price of Democracy is not easy or cheap.
You'll find a link to the PDF version of the BRBC's Directory of Elected Officials in this month's Timpanelli Topics and at our website.
If your business is not engaged in a discourse with your elected officials - GET ENGAGED - use our handy guide to elected officials to make sure your voice is heard!
Lastly, I've included a link to an announcement of a public meeting that you may be interested in. The meeting is about the future of Bridgeport's waterfront. I would encourage your attendance.
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