Roger Joyce and New Haven Mayor John DeStefanoThe vice president of a manufacturing company and self-identified Republican publicly endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mayor John DeStefano Wednesday in Hartford. Roger Joyce, vice president of engineering at Bilco Company, said DeStefano, a Democrat, is better for the state’s business climate and job growth than Gov. M. Jodi Rell. But one of DeStefano’s ideas for creating a more business-friendly climate may have been taken straight from Rell’s playbook. This time instead of ripping off the Democrats ideas, as Rell is so often accused of doing, DeStefano may have co-opted one of hers.
DeStefano said Wednesday as governor he would consolidate three agencies that deal with economic development into one agency that reports to a chief executive officer that everyone from the business community to politicians can hold accountable for job growth in the state. Rich Harris, spokesman for Rell’s campaign, said that’s exactly what Rell proposed in her state-of-the-state address this past February when she called for the creation of a new position of economic development director, who would be dedicated to coordinating economic development policy and strategy across all state agencies.The problem was the legislature didn’t buy into the idea, Harris said. Joyce said the business community in the state is frustrated with the bureaucratic inefficiencies it encounters when it has to deal with state agencies to get its business done. He said DeStefano has the ability to sit down at the table with business leaders, listen to their ideas, and create a strategy to move forward and implement it. “I think we’ve got an organizational issue and I attribute responsibility for that to the governor, who ever that is,” Joyce said. DeStefano said since Rell took office two years ago the state has ranked 44th in the nation in job growth while Rell’s new television ad touts the creation of 20,000 jobs in the last two years. Harris said the 20,000 figure is net growth over the past two years. Harris didn’t dispute the figures DeStefano’s campaign used, but he added that “you can’t infer anything from one single statistic.” Harris said DeStefano paints a picture of “doom and gloom,” whereas Rell believes it’s far stronger than the picture DeStefano paints. “But I would never suggest the governor is happy with where we’re at on job growth,” he said. DeStefano said Rell shouldn’t be bragging about being 44th in the nation in job growth. He said in a press release that Connecticut is “second only to Massachusetts in the cost of doing business in New England.” “Not only are we not competitive in our region, the cost of doing business is 11 percent higher in Connecticut than the national average,” DeStefano said. He said his principle job as governor would be to “chase business for this state.”