By Steve Gifford
Last week, Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development released results of their First Five business incentive programs. The programs showed a gain of 3700 jobs and $2.2B per year in economic activity, at a cost to the state of $13K per job. While we can be proud of this record, it needs adjustment.
As a small business owner, I can appreciate the conditions that made this program necessary. Banks simply weren’t lending, so the state stepped in to fill the gap and allow companies to find opportunities for expansion. Even today, securing financing can be a challenge.
Going forward, though, Connecticut should look to North Haven for a more sustainable model. Our town doesn’t have grants or forgivable loans to throw at companies. All that we have is the quality of our workforce, access to transportation, and town leadership under Mike Freda willing to work with businesses and developers. It has been a tremendously successful combination.
Connecticut as a state can learn from this. Instead of granting money to individual companies, it is more sustainable to simply be a good place to do business. We already have the workforce and infrastructure that companies are looking for. If we improve our regulatory climate and business outreach, we can bring in more employers, without cutting them checks. It has worked in our town, and can work for our state.
Steve Gifford is a candidate for State Representative from North Haven, and a member of the North Haven Economic Development Commission.