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2010 Connecticut Gubernatorial Forum on Jobs, Innovation & Technology

Election Forum Showed Contrast of the two Candidates – Please vote on November 2 No one can say they don’t have a choice in the two leading candidates, Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dannel Malloy next week. Check the video from the October 18 forum at Yale to see what we mean. 

So, while Foley laid out how he would wean the private sector from interference caused by a state government hobbled by self-interested and expensive union contracts and historically ineffective efforts to pick technology winners, Malloy discussed a future with more effective government programs focused on fixing issues that businesses currently find frustrating with current out-of-touch bureaucracies.

Each candidate was quick, “wonky” and direct with the panel of six questioners from the state’s technology trade associations. The audience felt it had been presented two radically different points of view and set of skills. Neither one had a clear plan for removing the $3.5 billion annual structural deficit projected to surface this coming July, but each gave indications of how they would approach the issue. Malloy talked of eliminating waste and collecting new revenues from growth and higher taxes while Foley came down on budget cuts and holding the line on new taxes to stimulate business expansion.  

Both candidates acknowledged the key role of the technology community in job creation even as they had very different philosophies about how to unleash the power of fast growing firms. It was clear that Foley was more comfortable with Connecticut winning the market place based on reputation and creating a strong business climate while Malloy spoke to programs and incentives that government could offer for technology related job growth.

More than one tech leader in the crowd wished parts of both men’s agenda could be combined as each candidates spoke to key ideas and positions supported by the innovation community.


More about the candidates and organizations in the Innovation Community:     Innovation is the magic word in economic development right now around the world.  Economies are searching for high quality jobs, all – even China – worry that traditional manufacturing  and other sources of good jobs will not be around forever, and they realize that some combination of policies and actions is needed to stay globally competitive.  

     The groups that have joined together to host this forum spend almost every other day of the year working to make and keep Connecticut competitive. We are seven of the key non-governmental organizations which together represent the firms, service providers, institutions and individuals who make up most of what is called the “Innovation eco-system.”

    This eco-system is what takes raw ideas that percolate in university labs, the R&D  centers of medium and larger firms and in the brains of entrepreneurs everywhere and mix them with skilled managers, early stage funding investors, support services and the magic of localized innovation cultures to create both the sustained leadership of the GEs, UTCs, Pitney Bowes as well as the incredible growth of “gazelle” firms such as Open Solutions, Alexion and Higher One.


    Recent studies show that over the last 10 years in America, all growth – every net new job –came from high growth start-up firms. It is  distressing that Connecticut is one of the only states in the country that has no net new job growth over the past decade. That  it also has fewer actual  business entities than it did  in 2000, shows that if we are to have any hope of rebuilding our economy and tax revenues, we must pay  more attention to creating a more successful “innovation eco-system”. Day in and day out, the host organizations work with their members, community, boards and staffs to provide a range of services, events and outcomes that make the technology based economy of  Connecticut stronger than it would otherwise be.

    Still, given the needs of the state, the rise of global competition and the rewards that come from success in growing and sustaining innovation based companies, the innovation community  believes that we can and must do better in the years ahead.

About the forum     The Candidates each had approximately 70 minutes with the audience, Mr. Malloy went first and at about 1:15 PM Mr. Foley had a chance to meet with the group.  The executives or chairs of each organization asked questions after a brief introduction by Chris Kalish, Executive Director of the GE Edgelab and Chairman of the CTC. He briefly presented to the candidates some data about the importance of fast growing firms.   Audience members were encouraged to write down a question on a card so it was submitted as a possible question if time permited.



The Candidates – profiles provided by their campaigns. DANNEL MALLOY – DEMOCRAT

Dan Malloy, a former Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, returned home in 1995 to run for Mayor of Stamford.  After winning a landslide victory, he served for 14 years – the city's longest serving mayor.       Stamford was revitalized under Dan’s leadership.  In a state that has struggled to create employment opportunities, Malloy brought nearly 5,000 new jobs to Stamford. While Connecticut continues to lose residents he was able to attract 12,000 new people to the city.  His administration reduced crime by 63% , consistently earning Stamford the label of one of the 'Top 10 safest cities in the U.S.' by the FBI.  He implemented the first citywide pre-school program, ensuring that all 4-year-old children have access to pre-K regardless of their economic circumstances.  His administration also built thousands of units of affordable housing, championed clean energy, and made dramatic improvements to Stamford’s transportation infrastructure.

    In 2006, Dan ran for Governor and was the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate.    Born and raised in Stamford, Dan is the youngest of eight siblings.  He currently lives in Stamford with his wife, Cathy, and their three sons; Dannel, Ben, and Sam.


    Innovation— "Connecticut is still a place innovation and entrepreneurs call home.  Unfortunately, we’re losing ground to other states – since 1990 we’ve lost more technology employees than any other state.  My administration will enhance programs that support innovative start-up business and that grow jobs in the areas of technology and research, and we’ll direct resources toward technologies where Connecticut has a competitive advantage and greater potential for growing and keeping high-skilled jobs."

    In order to ensure economic security, Connecticut must continually enhance its competitiveness, or watch jobs leave our state. Right now, our state is losing its edge in innovation and will continue to do so unless we do more to keep pace. My administration will deliver programs that support entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that grow jobs in technology and research. Connecticut can be a success story in the New Energy Economy by continuing to support home-grown alternative energy and new technologies that help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

    Additionally, as part of last year's Recovery Act, the federal government recently provided $2.3 billion in tax incentives for Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits to qualifying projects in states like Connecticut. Connecticut's own Clean Energy Fund provides investment opportunities for manufacturing of clean energy components like the photovoltaic cells used in solar energy.5 As other states like Arizona are proving, existing programs like these have the potential to attract international investment and grow cutting-edge clean energy companies.6 We can too.

    My administration will direct resources toward technologies where Connecticut has a competitive advantage and greater potential for growing and keeping high-skilled jobs and attract and grow cutting-edge companies in three ways:

    First, my administration will aggressively identify and recruit cutting edge companies from around the country and beyond. Other states are way ahead of ours and we must get in the game. I have a plan that establishes targeted recruitment teams do this, and I know how to do this.

    Second, if a company can qualify under the strict federal and Clean Energy guidelines, my administration will kick-start their success by providing access to a low-interest revolving loan that will not cost Connecticut taxpayers a dime.7 This is a realistic and effective plan-not one that is wishful rather than doable.

    Connecticut is still a place where innovative and forward thinking entrepreneurs call home. However, we are quickly losing ground to other states. In fact, since 1990 Connecticut has lost more technology employees than any other state. And, we are ranked 44th in an essential measure of future global competitiveness.

    Our record on building the small businesses that fuel job growth has been terrible. Small businesses account for 34% of all jobs in Connecticut, but we rank 46th when it comes to generating small business job growth.



    Tom Foley started his own company, NTC Group, in 1985 to acquire and turn around underperforming businesses. Over fifteen years, he built NTC to employ over 6,000 people worldwide.  In 2003, he was asked by the White House to go to Iraq to restart the government-owned businesses and regenerate the private sector economy.  He served in Iraq for seven months.  Mr. Foley received the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award for his work in Iraq.  In 2006, Mr. Foley was asked to serve as United States Ambassador to Ireland.  He served in Ireland from October of 2006 until January of 2009.  Mr. Foley has a B.A. in Economics from Harvard and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  Mr. Foley’s wife, Leslie, is an attorney and his son, also named Tom, is nineteen and a freshman in college.

    Innovation— I’d start by focusing the Governor’s office and our state economic development agencies on promoting sectors of the economy where we have competitive assets and good future potential: Healthcare services, highly engineered manufacturing, financial services, medical devices, alternative energy research, development and manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.  The Governor needs to reach out to out of state employers in these sectors to get them to come to Connecticut and take advantage of what we have to offer.

Step 1: Setting a New Course. Since March of 2008, Connecticut has lost nearly 95,000 jobs, causing untold hardship on individuals and families. Businesses and our young people see more opportunity elsewhere and are migrating out of state at an alarming rate. We can change this. Connecticut is rated one of the least ‘employer friendly’ states in the nation. Our legislature keeps piling new and costly mandates on businesses causing some to leave and others not to come here. Our state government is not doing enough to convince out of state employers to locate here. The first steps to turning things around include:

Repealing excessive mandates, regulations and fees that discourage growth. Simplify and expedite the state approval process. Provide a package of incentives to lenders to provide more start-up capital to small and new businesses. Ensure that the state’s transportation plan meets the needs of employers. Improve cooperation between the state’s economic development agencies.

Step 2: Focus on Strengths Connecticut has a highly skilled, highly productive workforce. We are wired to succeed in several industry sectors. The Foley administration will invest where we have the best chance to succeed and grow. Some of these economic sectors include:

Healthcare Services  – Highly Engineered Manufacturing -Financial Services – Medical Devices—Alternative Energy Research, Development and Manufacturing— Pharmaceuticals—Biotechnology

Step 3: Changing the Way Business is Done at the Capitol How Connecticut government conducts business, as evidenced through policy, tells business leaders whether Connecticut is a good place to do business and create jobs. Under a Foley administration, Connecticut government will be more open and transparent.  We will adopt Generally Accepted Accounting Principles so we know the true size of the fiscal challenges we face. We will end the use of borrowing, and other gimmicks, to pay for on-going expenses . We will aggressively eliminate wasteful and duplicate spending.  We will define our tax and business incentive policies based on what works and what makes us competitive with surrounding states. We will work in a bi-partisan manner with the Legislature.


Fast growing firms create most new jobs and need support

     Despite a skilled  workforce, many patents per capita and a great location between NYC and Boston, Connecticut is no longer producing new companies and technology jobs at a pace to keep up with most other states.  Most worrisome is the fall off in start-ups which then become fast growing firms. Although it would be great if all small businesses were created equally, this is not the case.  The results of many studies of census and business data now show that a small group of fast growing young companies—perhaps as few as 1% of all start-ups—create the vast majority of all new jobs each year and over time.

Christopher Kalish, Director of GE's Edgelab and Chair of CTC set the stage with a description interviews held this summer with CEOs of fast growing firms.

    To help understand what issues might be depressing the creation of fast growing firms, the CTC interviewed CEOs selected from 60 fast growing firms in all cluster areas, various ages and sizes.  The group of leaders agreed on many points and indicated a number of critical issues that the next Governor could address.

    At the top of their lists were items that national experts are also pointing to as creating a healthy “innovation eco-system” — more than just  the usual business issues of taxes and high costs. Fast growing CEOs want better networks of people and institutions, they want much closer relationships with the Governor and help growing in the state, they need more and stronger relationships with research universities, a deeper critical mass of companies and workers in their specific clusters, easier access from Bradley and to NYC, and cities that can attract and keep talent young people.



This Gubernatorial forum was presented by:

The Angel Investor Forum (AIF) has some 60 accredited Connecticut investors who meet monthly to review business plans and meet with entrepreneurs who seek their early stage investments. Angels have become a dominant multi-billion dollar force around the world for start-ups. Though the investments are made individually, by meeting and deciding as a group they are a great example of collective intelligence in action. For information contact Mary Anne Rooke ( Angel Investor Forum (AIF)

The Beacon Alliance is a network of companies and institutions whose major goals are to facilitate collaborative research and industrial partnering & facilitation of new medical technology companies. It provides members access to expertise and resources.  For information contact Theresa Wilson ( Beacon Alliance

CT Digital Media is a business network of executives in the convergence digital media industry –film production and media companies, content creators and technology providers, investors and entrepreneurs – looking to create new business and investment opportunities. The group fosters innovation and growth in the digital media industry by creating a forum in which CT's digital media community can network and collaborate to create new business opportunities. For information contact Ephraim Cohen ( Connecticut Digital Media (CDM)

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide association of technology oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership in areas of policy advocacy, community building and assistance for growing companies.  Speaking for over 2,000 companies that employ some 200,000 employees, the Connecticut Technology Council works to provide a strong and urgent voice  to support of the creation of a world class environment for innovation and technology based economic development. For information contact Matthew Nemerson ( mnemerson@CT.ORG The Connecticut Technology Council (CTC)

CURE is the educational and business support network organization for bioscience, with over 100 members. Its mission is to build networks and critical mass for the industry within the state, to keep Connecticut competitive in bioscience, and to tell the Connecticut bioscience story. CURE's membership includes major pharmaceutical companies, emerging biotechnology companies, and major research universities. CURE works closely with lawmakers, policy makers, and government officials to ensure that Connecticut remains hospitable to bioscience and an attractive location for new bioscience investment. For information contact Paul Pescatello ( Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE)

The CVG mission is to stimulate economic growth by encouraging investment in high-growth companies. Through chapters in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford, the organization produces technology-focused seminars and expositions, updates on financing and market trends, university tech transfer conferences, and the annual Crossroads Venture Fair. To deliver focused benefits CVG has established Entrepreneur and Investor Zones. For information contact Mike Roer ( Connecticut Venture Group (CVG)

SIM, through its Central Connecticut Chapter,  is an association of senior IT executives, prominent academicians, selected consultants, and other IT thought leaders, who come together to share and enhance their rich intellectual capital for the benefit of its members and their organizations. SIM members champion the alignment of IT and business as a valued partnership; the creation and sharing of best practices; IT management and leadership skills development that enables our members growth at each stage of their career; the replenishment and education of future IT leaders including; working with the IT industry to shape its direction; and policies and legislation that stimulate innovation, economic development, healthy competition and IT job creation.  Connecticut Society for Information Managers (SIM)

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