Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Connecticut tends to “beat ourselves up pretty hard” when it comes to the economy and job creation, but “the reality is we’ve moved 20 companies from other states into Connecticut.”
Malloy isn’t buying into the negative narrative about the state’s business environment.
There was an article in a newspaper Monday about an Israeli company creating four jobs in Connecticut, Malloy said. Last week, there was a story about a retailer closing and the state losing 95 jobs, but right below the article was another story about a company creating 200 jobs.
“We’re reaching out across the globe and we’re bringing jobs to Connecticut,” Malloy said after a tour of HABCO Industries in Glastonbury.
But if General Electric, which is headquartered in Fairfield decides to leave the state, will that have an impact on the perception of Connecticut’s business environment?
Malloy said he didn’t believe that would be the case.
What are the chances that GE will leave?
“I think they’re going to do, what they’re going to do,” Malloy said. “I think they’ve said they’re going to leave thousands of jobs in Connecticut one way or the other, which means they’re primarily talking about [their] headquarters operation which will be relatively small.”
GE is expected to announce its decision about whether it will stay or leave this month. According to news reports, New York and Massachusetts are still on the short list of states GE is considering. Malloy said the last time they spoke with company officials was when they learned the company would postpone its decision until January.
The company announced it was searching for a new headquarters this summer when the General Assembly changed the state’s business tax structure.
“Our taxes have been raised five times since 2011, while support for our strategies has been uneven,” GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt wrote in a letter to his employees this summer. “I believe we should pay our fair share and that all of us should give back to our communities. But, we can compare Connecticut with other states where small and large businesses have a better environment to thrive and compete.”
Last week, an economist and the head of Connecticut’s largest business lobby said they were concerned about what GE leaving the state would mean.
“If GE goes out, it is a very serious punch to the gut,” Nick Perna, a Webster Bank economist, said.
Connecticut Business and Industry Association President and CEO Joseph Brennan said GE’s relocation efforts has been so public it would be a “big deal” if they decide to leave.
“GE is going to thrive. They are going to thrive in Connecticut or somewhere else,” Brennan said.
Malloy used the press conference Monday to highlight the progress his administration made in 2015 toward growing the economy. Malloy mentioned the shrinking unemployment rate, an increase in private sector wages, full recovery of private sector employment, and a smaller state workforce, as accomplishments.
“When business leaders ask what Connecticut can offer their companies, I simply tell them to look at the facts,” Malloy said. “We have one of the best-educated and one of the most productive workforces in the nation. We lead in patents and business R&D. Our effective tax rate is one of the lowest in the nation and our GDP per capita is one of the highest.”
He said if Connecticut were a country, it would “rank 7th in the world in productivity.”
Malloy said before he took office the Department of Economic and Community Development had few tools to help attract and retain businesses. In Malloy’s first year, the General Assembly held an October special session and approved many of the programs the DECD now uses to help companies stay in the state.
One of those programs is the Small Business Express Program.
In 2015, the Small Business Express program provided $44 million in state grants to 237 companies that have promised to create more than 1,100 jobs and retain over 3,300 jobs, Malloy said.
Another 25 businesses received $109 million through the Manufacturer Assistance Act and the First Five program. The money will help create and retain over 14,000 jobs and leverage $273 million in private investment, Malloy said.
Malloy declined to share any ideas he had for growing the economy further during the next legislative session, which starts on Feb. 3.