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Financial Services, Biotech Lead Connecticut's Growth

Jun/Jul 08
"Connecticut is a small, but a great state; we take pride in all that we have to offer," says Joan McDonald, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, touting the state's location between New York and Boston, proximity to Eastern Canada, its shovel-ready sites, and its educational institutions. "We are one of the Northeast states without a budget deficit." In the Development Report Card for the States by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Connecticut was one of two states that scored all As in the categories of performance, business vitality, and development capacity.

 Besides pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and chemical manufacturing, the state counts alternative energy among its diverse sectors. "Connecticut is home to one-third of all U.S. fuel cell manufacturing jobs," says McDonald. Governor M. Jodi Rell's Energy Vision plan calls for 20 percent of all the state's energy used and sold to come from clean or renewable resources by the year 2020. This past January, FuelCell Energy announced a $10 million expansion to its Torrington plant that will add 100 jobs to its current employment of 460 people.

Companies in the Constitution State find choose employees both locally or from nearby states. "One phenomenon we have been seeing is population moving here from New York," says McDonald. "We also see a number of reverse commuters."

Connecticut's insurance and financial services sector includes more than 6,000 companies employing more than 123,000 people and accounting for 19 percent of the gross state product. Swiss-based UBS operates the world's largest trading floor in Stamford, bustling with 1,400 traders. RBS Greenwich Capital, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is constructing a new $400 million, 500,000-square-foot downtown facility that will provide 1,150 additional jobs. Companies adding to the state's reputation as an insurance industry hub include The Hartford, Aetna, Travelers, and Mass Mutual.

A 30 percent tax credit for the film industry is encouraging the developing digital animation sector. Blue Sky Studios, Inc., a digital animation production company and wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment, plans to move from White Plains, New York, to a 105,000-square-foot facility in Greenwich, bringing 300 new jobs.

To encourage the growth of advanced manufacturing, the state has become "aggressive in lean processes within our manufacturing companies," says McDonald. ConnStep Inc., the Connecticut State Technology Extension Program, identifies and guides companies through the lean philosophy to improve efficiency, to apply advanced manufacturing and management techniques, and to add more high-tech jobs.

Bringing abandoned properties back into productive reuse, the Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development has been striving to ready an inventory of energy-efficient and environmentally responsible shovel-ready sites at former manufacturing facilities. "We work with public-private partnerships to ready these sites as well," says McDonald.