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Connecticut Competitiveness Agenda Project

In January 2010, following a several month strategic planning process by the CTC’s board of directors, the Council embarked on a detailed set of efforts we call the Connecticut Competitiveness Agenda Project to help give the next state Governor an intimate view of how high potential technology firms see the world and the advice they have for making Connecticut more competitive.

While the full results will not be released for several more weeks, the massive data and meetings reviewed to date show that while there are many key challenges facing the tech community – many if not most of the issues can be handled through changes in attitudes, policies and leadership and will not require major new expenditures.  The final report should be full of revelations of opportunities that are within reach of the next administration.

Realizing that most discussions of economic development focus on preserving the clusters we have or looking to see which new industries seem to hold potential, it was decided that the Council would come to the table with a new thrust, providing the point of view of the leaders of the technology companies in the state which are doing very well.

A new set of issues to consider We guessed that issues of taxes, energy, and traffic would not be of top importance to these leaders, but that a new set of concerns and examples of best practices from other places would emerge. Our assumption is that these leaders have a unique sense of what else was out there in this country or the world that might entice their firms to leave or split operations in the future and this would provide excellent benchmarks. So we sought the advice and insights of these successful CEOs and will try to describe what the state might do to keep their firms here as they continue to grow.

The end result will be a detailed set of recommendations on how to grow companies and jobs in the state to the two final candidates for Governor, former Stamford Mayor and Democrat Dan Malloy and former Ambassador to Ireland Republican Tom Foley.

The report is based on two major research undertakings. Council president Matthew Nemerson noted that since May 2010, “the Council has been interviewing CEOs from a carefully selected list of about fifty Connecticut (and a few former Connecticut) firms, each of which can be considered fast growing and part of one of the state’s key technology clusters.  The Council also hired a group of intern “fellows” from leading local schools to research past reports on what makes states and countries grow their tech industries and also to review previous reports done about Connecticut itself.” 

Leadership from UTRC and Covidien The effort has been led by a Task Force chaired by UTRC Executive Director David Parekh and Covidien’s CTO Paul Hermes.  Day Pitney partner Rick Harris has been overseeing the Fellows who are in turn led by a joint Yale FES and SOM Masters degree student Casey Pickett (pictured below on far right, with (l to r)Matthew Nemerson, A. Obajinmi,Moh Sharma, Vivian Zhou)  

The result, according to Council Chairman Chris Kalish, Director of GE’s Edgelab, will be, “a truly unique and timely set of insights from the most credible point of view in the economy – successful CEOs of firms who are adding jobs and who have the potential to add more in the years ahead. What these men and women think about Connecticut and the advice they have is invaluable.

The Technology Council has a unique window into how and where jobs will be created in the state. Data and studies from around the developed, post-industrial countries show that in any given year the majority of new jobs are created by a small number of fast growing – usually quite small – firms.

The combination of working with the final candidates for Governor, cataloguing the insights of key CEOs and reviewing all important reports compiled recently about states and how to become economically more competitive, should help the next administration make the state a stronger location for technology firms. A report will be released by late September.

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