-by Don Beckwith, senior vice president of finance and administration at ebm-papst
Wednesday, February 29, Accounting Manager Jack Relidzinski and I attended Connecticut Business Day, sponsored by the Connecticut Business Industry Association (CBIA) and the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
The event took place in the state Legislative Office Building and featured Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman as keynote speaker, Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith.
Each speaker focused on the importance of education reform, as Governor Malloy prepared to kick off his Education Reform Tour on March 1. Our children are lagging in reading and critical thinking skills. The legislators recognize the importance of fixing this issue, but also recognize it will take many years to do so. Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman assured everyone that the millions of dollars this agenda item will consume are in the new proposed budget, and there will be no new taxes necessary to make it happen (this got a nice laugh from the crowd). But what this achievement gap means is that our workforce is in jeopardy, and finding skilled workers could become a significant challenge in the future. This, coupled with current challenges, puts Connecticut’s companies in a tenuous position.
Right now, manufacturers, in particular, are having a difficult time attracting lower wage employees to Connecticut and retaining them because of the cost of living, among other issues. I suspect other companies are facing the same challenges, because the main comment coming repeatedly from the crowd was, “Stop putting millions of dollars into attracting new businesses to Connecticut and focus on keeping the businesses that are here and have been committed to the state for years.”
The message was clear – Connecticut is currently not a business-friendly state. Each of the speakers acknowledged there is a lot of work to be done. In the meantime, I ask other Connecticut businesses what they are doing to attract and retain employees. Please post any comments below or on our Facebook page!