Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was as vague as he could be Thursday about the prospects of NBC Sports moving to Stamford. He was just as vague about what exactly will be in the special sessions jobs bill.
The NBC Sports rumor was first reported by Kevin Rennie. Rennie’s blog post says the company is looking to locate as many as 1,000 jobs to the former site of the Clairol hair dye factory.
“At any given time we’re in discussions and I will tell you we are in discussions with many, many companies right now,” Malloy said responding to questions from reporters Thursday afternoon. “When and if an agreement is reached with any of those companies, no one is more anxious to make an announcement than me.“
“Many drops can be spilled between the cup and the lip,” he added.
As for the Oct. 26 special session on jobs, Malloy didn’t offer much more detail and a meeting with leaders from both the Democratic and Republican caucus was rescheduled until next week.
“We know what the main groupings are. Some of it has to do with regulation timeliness, some of it has to do with access to capital, particularly in early stage development, a lot of it has to do with education and workforce preparation,” he said. “So it’s going to fall into all of those categories as well as major retooling of DECD to give it some additional tools and sharpen the ones it has.”
Malloy said he believes they’re days away from announcing something more concrete. Sources say Malloy will make the proposal public on Monday to give lawmakers almost two weeks to digest it.
Asked if the package will include help for small businesses Malloy said it will include help for businesses regardless of size.
“We understand that smaller businesses have some particular concerns and I think on a bipartisan basis we’ll be able to address some of it,” Malloy said.
But “some of it” won’t be good enough for Republican lawmakers, who say they are making every effort to collaborate in a bipartisan manner with their Democratic colleagues.
“I’m also hopeful we have a jobs package that also gives aid to small businesses,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said. “We’re not all about grabbing some marquis company and helping out the big boys.”
“We realize this economy in the state is made up more than 80 percent by small business” Cafero said.
Cafero said he was unwilling to support the request to bond $291 million in state funds for Jackson Laboratories or the rest of the jobs package, if there is no aid for small business in the jobs package.
“I made it clear from the beginning of our discussions, and I’m not a vague talker, that I was unwilling to collaborate if the package didn’t come about from a true bipartisan effort,” Cafero said. “Also if this becomes a Christmas tree of bills that didn’t get passed during the regular session we’re off the package.”
Rumors about special exemptions for certain things made their way around the Capitol Thursday. Cafero said if any of them are true “that’s not going to pass muster.”
He admitted the call for the special session is vague giving lobbyist and lawmakers hope of getting things they need passed into the bill.
Currently, there are about 75,000 small businesses in that state that account for nearly 98 percent of the state’s employers and half its private-sector jobs, according to the latest (2006) U.S. Commerce Department data. The vast majority or 88 percent of these businesses have fewer than 20 employees, Steven Lanza, executive editor of the Connecticut Economy wrote in the September issue of the quarterly.
Looking at data from 1996 to 2006 Connecticut has one of the worst records in terms of small business growth.
“We’re third worst after West Virginia and Ohio,“ Lanza said. “Small businesses actually contracted by about 3 percent over that 10 year period while they grew everywhere else.”
Connecticut’s inability to grow small business is not something Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith is ignoring. In fact she said back in June that it’s an area the state needs to improve upon.
Back in June Smith said Connecticut has a strong, diverse base of big businesses, but lags behind other states when it comes to companies with 10 to 100 employees.
“We need to have a critical mass of startup companies,” Smith told a group of commissioners.
When it comes to jobs that have 500 or more employees Connecticut is ranked seventh in the country in terms of business creation and growth, while jobs with 10 to 99 workers ranks 44th in the country and those with two to nine employees ranks 34th, said Smith.
Smith said Thursday that her staff and legislative staff from both parties are collaborating on a package, which won’t revisit things that didn’t get done in the last legislative session and will focus on getting the state’s economy back up and running.
She said she expects the package will be “finalized and crystallized” in the next couple days.