Brighter Days Ahead for the Global Economy?

Experts share their views at CBIA’s September economic conference

By Lesia Winiarskyj

With Europe showing nascent signs of a turnaround, the conversation about the world economy is changing, Anthony Chan told a packed room of business executives at The Connecticut Economy on Sept. 6 in Rocky Hill.

Chan is managing director and chief economist at J.P. Morgan Private Client.

“Europe is really the exciting story for the second half of this year—and for 2014. For the first time, we are now seeing positive growth this quarter,” a trend Chan believes will continue.

“This is really signaling to us that Europe is going from contractionary economic growth to positive economic growth.”

With the recent rebound and an uptick in exports, he noted, “consumer confidence in Europe is picking up.”

Economic prospects in China are improving too, he added, and the combined impact of China and Europe’s comeback will be felt in the world’s financial markets and the global economy.

Emerging Markets Weaker

Closer to home, “we’re starting to see wages pick up,” said Chan, who dismissed the notion that job creation is limited to part-time or low-paying work. “Manufacturing is a big star performer today,” he noted, as are professional service industries that also offer higher-wage jobs.

The major point of global economic concern has shifted, Chan pointed out, to emerging markets that have high current account deficits and are financially and politically unstable.

“Foreign direct investment has dried up in some areas,” he said, citing trends in India and Brazil, among others, where there is greater social unrest and ”less confidence in reform.”

Nonetheless, Chan’s outlook remains positive. “Global economic growth is going to continue to improve in 2014.”

New Golden Era

Also speaking at the conference were David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States and founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, and David Darst, managing director and chief investment strategist at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

Darst believes the path to a new golden era for investors will be paved by a societal push for structural reform, the rise of new industries, “guerilla companies that sell to the planet,” and the millennial generation. (At 80 million strong, Darst says, “they are the new baby boomers.”)

Darst, like Chan, discussed the political and financial landscape in Europe and emerging markets, as well as domestic housing prices, gold, treasury bond interest rates, energy, the Shiller price to earnings ratio, S&P 500, U.S. equity investment performance, and other variables he said investors need to “keep on our radar screen.”

Business Confidence in Connecticut Lagging

In spite of some good news surrounding manufacturing jobs and business profitability, Connecticut employers are still pessimistic about the state’s long-term competitiveness.

Those were some of the findings of CBIA/BlumShapiro’s 2013 Survey of Connecticut Businesses, released at the Sept. 6 economic conference.

Only 11% of businesses surveyed see Connecticut as a positive place to do business, reflecting concerns over the pace of the state’s economic recovery and Connecticut’s ability to compete regionally, nationally, and globally.

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.

Brighter Days Ahead for the Global Economy?

Experts share their views at CBIA’s September economic conference

By Lesia Winiarskyj

Anthony Chan, managing director and chief economist at J.P. Morgan Private Client, believes recent signs of a rebound in Europe bode well for the U.S. and global economies.

With Europe showing nascent signs of a turnaround, the conversation about the world economy is changing, Anthony Chan told a packed room of business executives at The Connecticut Economy on Sept. 6 in Rocky Hill.

Chan is managing director and chief economist at J.P. Morgan Private Client.

“Europe is really the exciting story for the second half of this year—and for 2014. For the first time, we are now seeing positive growth this quarter,” a trend Chan believes will continue.

“This is really signaling to us that Europe is going from contractionary economic growth to positive economic growth.”

With the recent rebound and an uptick in exports, he noted, “consumer confidence in Europe is picking up.”

Economic prospects in China are improving too, he added, and the combined impact of China and Europe’s comeback will be felt in the world’s financial markets and the global economy.

Emerging Markets Weaker

Closer to home, “we’re starting to see wages pick up,” said Chan, who dismissed the notion that job creation is limited to part-time or low-paying work. “Manufacturing is a big star performer today,” he noted, as are professional service industries that also offer higher-wage jobs.

The major point of global economic concern has shifted, Chan pointed out, to emerging markets that have high current account deficits and are financially and politically unstable.

“Foreign direct investment has dried up in some areas,” he said , citing trends in India and Brazil, among others, where there is greater social unrest and ”less confidence in reform.”

Nonetheless, Chan’s outlook remains positive. “Global economic growth is going to continue to improve in 2014.”

New Golden Era

Also speaking at the conference were David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States and founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, and David Darst, managing director and chief investment strategist at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

Darst believes the path to a new golden era for investors will be paved by a societal push for structural reform, the rise of new industries, “guerilla companies that sell to the planet,” and the millennial generation. (At 80 million strong, Darst says, “they are the new baby boomers.”)

Darst, like Chan, discussed the political and financial landscape in Europe and emerging markets, as well as domestic housing prices, gold, treasury bond interest rates, energy, the Shiller price to earnings ratio, S&P 500, U.S. equity investment performance, and other variables he said investors need to “keep on our radar screen.”

Business Confidence in Connecticut Lagging

In spite of some good news surrounding manufacturing jobs and business profitability, Connecticut employers are still pessimistic about the state’s long-term competitiveness.

Those were some of the findings of CBIA/BlumShapiro’s 2013 Survey of Connecticut Businesses, released at the Sept. 6 economic conference.

Only 11% of businesses surveyed see Connecticut as a positive place to do business, reflecting concerns over the pace of the state’s economic recovery and Connecticut’s ability to compete regionally, nationally, and globally. ■

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.

More photos

Survey: Federal Healthcare Reforms Will Increase Costs

Connecticut businesses see state’s economic recovery lagging nation’s

CBIA’s Quarterly Economic Survey: First Quarter 2013 * found that 87% of Connecticut businesses predict increased costs as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

CBIA economist Pete Gioia notes that the January 2014 deadline for complying with ACA requirements was a “major concern” for the state’s businesses.

“Just 1% believe Obamacare will reduce the cost of compensation and benefits for their companies,” says Gioia,“ while 11% see no fiscal impact.”

“And it was quite telling that just 13% feel they have enough information to understand and comply with federal healthcare requirements.”

The survey—released the same day as a Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report revealed that Connecticut is last among all states in economic growth—also found that business owners believe the state’s economy continues to lag behind the national recovery.

Just 17% of businesses expect the state’s economy to improve, while almost a quarter (23%) see the U.S. economy improving.

That outlook repeats a pattern from previous quarters, although half of businesses now forecast stability for the national economy, a jump of 14 percentage points from the fourth quarter of last year.

Some 39% of respondents believe the state’s economy will remain stable, up from 34% the previous quarter.

“These numbers show a state economy that still has a long way to go to reach sustainable conditions,” says Gioia.

Respondents are optimistic about future sales and production, with 39% predicting increases, and just 17% forecasting declines. More than a third (35%) see conditions improving for their firms.

About a quarter (24%) say they would add employees in the second quarter, with 15% expecting to shrink their workforces.

Other important survey findings:

  • 29% of respondents see improving conditions for their industry, while 20% see declines.
  • 37% predict increases in productivity, up from 30% the previous quarter.
  • 38% predict an increase in wage costs, while 59% see those costs remaining stable.
  • 36% forecast higher compensation and benefits costs, while 59% say they would stay the same. ■

* The survey was emailed to approximately 1,900 Connecticut businesses in April 2013. A total of 221 responded, for an 11.6% response rate and a margin of error of +/- 6.7%. All figures are rounded to the nearest whole number and may not total 100%.

Manufacturing & Technology Day

Photos by John Kallio

From chocolates to jet engines, from pasta to submarines, hundreds of products and innovations were on display at this year’s Manufacturing and Technology Day at the State Capitol.

Hosted by CBIA, the May 15 event featured exhibits from 44 of the state’s leading manufacturers and gave legislators and other state policymakers an opportunity to see firsthand the diversity of products made in Connecticut—and hear firsthand from business owners and executives about what kinds of policy changes are needed to spur private-sector investment and job growth.

The event also included a morning program for manufacturers and state policymakers featuring an overview of key legislative issues, a panel discussion on additive manufacturing, and remarks by state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith and members of the state legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.

Rep. Buddy Altobello (center) chats with representatives of Protein Sciences Corporation.

 

Rep. Dan Carter visits the Legrand display.

 

Sen. Gayle Slossberg (right) discusses business and economic issues at the Connecticut Metal Components (CMC) booth. CBIA board member Michele Caulfield of Stevens Company listens in. (Stevens Company is one of CMC’s family of companies)

 

Sen. Joe Markley (right) speaks with CBIA board member Chris Ulbrich of Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals.

 

Right to left: Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, CBIA President and CEO John Rathgeber, and Rep. Patricia Widlitz.

 

Rep. Charlie Stallworth learns about Cooper-Atkins’ product line.

 

Rep. Lawrence Miller visits the Miller Foods/Oma’s Pride Pet Food booth.

 

Rep. Mike Alberts (center) learns about automated external defibrillator manufacturing at the Defibtech display.

A Partnership for the 21st Century

Bilateral agreement would eliminate trade barriers between U.S. and EU

Susie Kitchens, British Consul General in Boston

By Susie Kitchens
British Consul General in Boston

On a recent trip to Connecticut I couldn’t help but feel a little home comfort as I travelled past signs for places such as Windsor, Manchester, New London, and indeed New Britain. With such a rich shared history tying our two countries together, it is easy to characterise the relationship between the U.K. and New England as one of historic charm and colour. However with trade negotiations on the horizon that could bring our economies even closer, the time is ripe for looking forward, not back, to the bright future that lies ahead.

Right now the United States and the European Union (EU) are embarking on the single most ambitious bilateral trade agreement ever attempted. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will provide a significant boost to economies on both sides of the Atlantic in a deal that has already been positively welcomed by both President Obama and EU leadership.

Trade Agreement Impact

The TTIP will not only remove many of the remaining trade barriers between the two largest economies in the world but also represents the single largest opportunity for growth in trade between our two economies in well over a decade. As Prime Minister David Cameron neatly summarises, “The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

For a competitive state such as Connecticut, with four of its top ten export markets located in the EU, the impact of TTIP will be significant. Many of Connecticut’s businesses and industries will benefit from the elimination of tariffs that are currently swallowed as the cost of doing business with Europe.

Although tariffs are, in general, already low, the sheer volume of trade means that their collective elimination would translate into significant cost savings that in the future can be ploughed into new production, encouraging new growth and generating further job creation. Additionally, companies of all sizes will be spared the headache of working to nonaligned regulatory standards: In many industries, TTIP will create a coherent set of regulatory standards—or recognition by the EU and U.S. of each other’s standards—helping to set trading standards for the world.

The U.K. has been instrumental in putting an EU/U.S. free trade agreement on the agenda. The British government pressed the case and supported the establishment of the EU/U.S. High-Level Working Group in 2011.

Demonstrating his commitment to these negotiations, Prime Minister Cameron has asserted, “Breaking down the remaining trade barriers and securing a comprehensive deal will require hard work and bold decisions on both sides. But I am determined to use my chairmanship of the G8 to help achieve this and to help European and American businesses succeed in the global race.”

As the representative for Her Majesty’s Government here in New England, it is now my mission to put these words into action by raising awareness and garnering support from vital stakeholders in business, politics, and academia. That is why I am keen to engage with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. In order for this agreement to succeed, negotiators will need the vociferous support of the business community to keep their focus on what the benefits of reduced trade barriers would mean for businesses and consumers alike. ■

The British Consulate General in Boston represents the U.K. government in New England across political, commercial, security, and economic areas of interest to the U.K. and New England states.

10 Questions with DEEP’s Ross Bunnell

Engineer explains agency’s new hazardous waste compliance assistance program

By Lesia Winiarskyj

Ross Bunnell

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has developed an outreach program—COMPASS—to help businesses comply with Connecticut’s hazardous waste regulations. Ross Bunnell, an engineer and 25-year veteran with DEEP’s hazardous waste program, explains.

First of all, what is ‘hazardous’ waste?

Hazardous wastes include wastes that are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, or specifically listed due to certain hazardous properties and that require special handling and disposal. Examples include residues from industrial wastewater treatment, spent process solutions, solvent and paint-related wastes, and old or unused chemicals. Hazardous wastes also include some fairly common items, like fluorescent lamps, mercury thermostats, batteries, and computers and other electronic equipment, all of which can contain toxic metals.

Tell us about COMPASS.

COMPASS, short for “compliance assistance,” is a program DEEP created to help businesses stay in compliance with hazardous waste regulations. We’ve posted fact sheets, guidance manuals, and other key information and set up a toll-free compliance assistance hotline, 888.424.4193, where folks can get answers to specific questions. Also—and this is of particular interest to businesses—we offer free compliance assistance audits.

What happens during an audit?

We come out to companies and determine whether their wastes are hazardous, what requirements they may need to comply with, and even whether and how they can reduce or eliminate the hazardous waste that they generate. It’s free advice and assistance from our inspection staff—without enforcement action or fines levied. You can schedule a visit, which includes a walk-through and tour of your facility, a review of your operations and manufacturing processes, and an evaluation of wastes generated and on-site documentation, such as shipping records, hazardous waste determinations, and waste profiles. Anyone who wants to set this up should call us [or click here].

What types of businesses should know about COMPASS?

Really, almost any company that generates hazardous waste. This could be a large manufacturer, a neighborhood autobody shop, or a business of just about any size in between. If a company generates wastes as a result of their operations, there’s a good chance at least one of those wastes could be hazardous.

What advice do you have for businesses and other entities that are new to these requirements?

There’s a section of DEEP’s website called “RCRA Help!” that provides step-by-step guidance for those who are new to hazardous waste requirements. RCRA stands for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the law that established the requirements for properly managing hazardous waste.

Does COMPASS help with requirements other than hazardous waste?

Sure—businesses that generate hazardous waste often are subject to other environmental requirements, such as solid waste and recycling, wastewater discharge, and air pollution regulations. The staff at DEEP’s hazardous waste program has experience with these requirements, so we may be able to help with them as well.

What has been the business response to COMPASS?

Literally thousands of Connecticut companies have accessed our materials or called our hotline. We’ve also performed free audits for numerous facilities. We’re finding that businesses are very pleased with the level of site-specific help they get—not only to comply with requirements but also to reduce or eliminate the hazardous waste they generate and save money on disposal costs. If companies can easily get the compliance information they need, they can save staff time, lower their costs for waste management, and even in some cases, save on material and energy.

Have businesses helped shape COMPASS?

Definitely. After developing the program, we knew we needed input from potential users. So we created a stakeholder group called the Hazardous Waste Advisory Committee. This group put together recommendations for improving our program—and an implementation schedule.

What were some of their recommendations?

They suggested holding meetings a few times a year to provide free training and a forum for agency staff and the business community to discuss and collaborate on key hazardous waste issues. They also asked for an interactive, computer-based compliance assistance program, which we’re calling “iCOMPASS.” It would involve users going online and answering a series of questions about the hazardous waste activities at their site. Based on their answers, iCOMPASS would generate a detailed report about hazardous waste requirements that apply to them. Basically, it would work a lot like the tax preparation software that people use. It could also be designed to link to relevant topics and required forms at DEEP’s website.

What’s the status of iCOMPASS?

We’re still gathering feedback from those who handle and manage hazardous waste. We’re asking what they want out of a Web-based program like iCOMPASS, and we’re eager to hear from CBIA member companies about their preferences. We’ve developed a simple, 12-question survey businesses can take to help guide us. ■

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.

Biotech Alive and Growing in Connecticut

By Lesia Winiarskyj

In the midst of what was, arguably, the worst flu season in the last five years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January approved a revolutionary vaccine made using recombinant DNA technology. Unlike other flu vaccines on the market, Flublok (which will be widely available for the 2013–2014 flu season) is manufactured without live influenza viruses or eggs—eliminating the need for antibiotics and formaldehyde in the production process.

Flublok uses cells from the ovaries of a caterpillar, reprogrammed to make a highly purified protein—hemagglutinin—associated with the flu virus. The cells’ ability to grow and divide indefinitely allows for accelerated, large-scale production.

Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, says this cutting-edge technology “offers the potential for faster startup of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic, because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on availability of the influenza virus.”

Economic Boost

Besides being a public health breakthrough, Flublok is also, importantly, a boon for Connecticut’s growing biotech economy. The new vaccine, together with an additive designed to reduce the duration and severity of influenza and prevent its spread, is a product of Meriden-based Protein Sciences Corporation.

“Fewer than one percent of the biotech companies on the planet get a product approved,” says Dan Adams, executive chair and global head of business development at Protein Sciences. “Ninety-nine percent of people who work for pharmaceutical companies never work on a product that gets approved. So we are really rare birds here. And we did it as a small company.”

Protein Sciences added more than 70 high-paying jobs to its payroll in the last 18 months—and they are not the only Connecticut biotech experiencing rapid growth.

Here We Grow Again

Cheshire-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which started as a small biotech in New Haven’s Science Park, has twice outgrown its space since 1992. Thanks to significant incentives provided through Governor Malloy’s First Five program—including urban and industrial site reinvestment tax credits, grants for laboratory construction and equipment, and loan forgiveness based on job creation—Alexion is combining its research, operational, and administrative headquarters functions into a single state-of-the-art facility in downtown New Haven, scheduled for completion in 2015. The company, which develops treatments for ultra-rare diseases, expects to create 200–300 new jobs in the state by 2017.

Similarly, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, which develops oral treatments to cure hepatitis C, is continuing to expand operations at its New Haven headquarters.

Over the past two years, Achillion has grown its employee base by nearly 50%, hiring highly trained personnel with regulatory and clinical operations expertise. That growth is likely to continue, says Senior Vice President and CFO Mary Kay Fenton, as Achillion announced last month the completion of a $142 million follow-on stock offering to support its future development plans.

“With an ideal geographic location between New York and Boston, New Haven has always been home to a number of emerging life sciences and pharmaceutical companies,” says Fenton. “We owe much of our success to the world-class talent available to us here in Connecticut, and to the bioscience cluster that is expanding in downtown New Haven and throughout the state.”

Leading the Way

According to Paul Pescatello, Connecticut—which is home to more than 500 bioscience companies—ranks seventh in the nation in the number of bioscience companies per capita and in total employment supported by biopharma. Pescatello is chair of the Bioscience Growth Council for CURE (Connecticut United for Research Excellence).

“The industry contributes over $14 billion to the state’s economy,” he says, “or about six percent of the gross state product.”

Recent efforts to recruit and retain bioscience firms and solidify Connecticut’s position as a national leader in stem cell research, genomics, and personalized medicine show great promise, Pescatello adds.

“The state is leveraging public-private partnerships, creating new and expanded facilities, and offering targeted incentive packages that will attract life sciences companies to Connecticut and keep them here once their products reach the point of commercialization.”

Examples of recent initiatives include:

  • Governor Malloy’s proposed Bioscience Innovation Act, which would provide $200 million in funding to strengthen Connecticut’s bioscience sector over the next 10 years
  • The formation of a new bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus consisting of state legislators from both the House and Senate tasked with supporting scientific innovation and the growth and expansion of bioscience through public policy
  • Increasing the UConn Health Center’s research innovation capacity through facility upgrades, a doubling of incubatory space for bioscience business startups, and a $1.5 billion investment in UConn to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education activities
  • Connecticut’s Innovation Ecosystem, a public-private partnership (with hubs in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Storrs) to support high-value technology-based startups and stage 2 companies

“Simply put, bioscience is a wise investment that generates rich dividends,” says Pescatello. “This is especially the case for a state like Connecticut—a state whose assets are its patents, its intellectual property, its expertise in high-value-added R&D, and its talent pool—men and women ready and able to take the jobs created by bioscience, from lab technicians to lead Ph.D. scientists. Bioscience creates great jobs with robust benefits that aren’t easily outsourced. And no industry invests or exports more. The multiplier effect of each dollar expended—the ripple effect across the state’s economy—is greater for the biopharma industry than for any other.“ ■

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.

Sample Recommendations from CBIA’s 2013 Government Affairs Program

A Stronger, More Competitive Connecticut

Five years after the recession began—and two years since it technically ended—Connecticut continues to face serious economic and fiscal problems. Our challenge is to build a stronger, more competitive Connecticut where:

  • Small businesses, manufacturers, and large corporations are all able to succeed in regional, national, and global economies.
  • Employers can offer and sustain the high wages and benefits that raise our standard of living and provide a dependably good quality of life for all residents.
  • A high-performing education system, modern infrastructures, equitable tax and regulatory policies, and a streamlined, efficient state government boost business confidence and economic performance.
  • Our greatest strengths—such as skilled workers, core industries, and advanced manufacturing—are made stronger, and innovators are encouraged to create new businesses, products, and services.

CBIA’s 2013 Government Affairs Program shows how state policymakers can achieve those goals in ways that give employers a clear indication that the time is right to create more jobs and increase investments in the state. The following are examples of our recommendations.

A Sustainable State Government

State spending. Make state government more efficient, effective, and affordable by budgeting responsibly and streamlining the state bureaucracy. Key steps include:

  • Creating a new state budget that reduces the size and cost of state government while improving its effectiveness without additional tax or fee increases
  • Implementing government reforms based on recommendations by the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century and best practices from other states in such areas as long-term care, corrections, and state employee pensions and retirement benefits

State taxes. Make state tax policy simpler, fairer, and more strategic to help drive our economy by (1) promoting tax policy that encourages business investment, jobs, innovation, and productivity, and (2) encouraging consistency and predictability in the development and application of state tax policy and avoiding retroactive changes to ensure fairness, effectiveness, and economic growth. Specific short-term steps include:

  • Clarifying the manufacturing exemption for mixed-use businesses and repairs
  • Phasing out the corporate income tax surcharge as planned
  • Clarifying the apportionment methodologies applicable to limited liability companies and partnerships to provide a level playing field with corporations

We also recommend several long-term solutions—for example, phasing out the 70% cap on corporate tax credits for R&D and fixed capital and allowing all business entities to claim tax credits.

More Competitive Business Costs

Energy costs. Promote a comprehensive energy policy that provides our economy with reliable, diverse, and affordable power. Policymakers should, for example:

  • Implement aspects of the state’s new Comprehensive Energy Strategy that reduce energy costs for Connecticut manufacturers and other businesses.
  • Allow greater flexibility to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (such as by broadening the universe of “Class 1” renewables).
  • Further develop and maintain a diverse portfolio of energy sources to fuel our economy, including natural gas, large-scale hydropower, nuclear, fuel oil, clean coal, and renewables.

Healthcare costs. Shape state healthcare policy to reduce costs while increasing quality and access by, for example, reducing existing state health benefit mandates, rejecting future mandates that would be a direct cost to the state, and encouraging competition and a level playing field that will offer employers more choice among health insurance plans within and outside the state’s new healthcare exchange. Furthermore, support modification of medical malpractice claim statutes by basing pre- and post-judgment interest rates on the prime rate and promoting voluntary alternative dispute resolution programs.

Environmental costs. Better align environmental laws, regulations, and policies with economic development goals. Among other things, CBIA urges DEEP to quickly revise its cleanup standard regulations, and the legislature to reject any proposal prior to the adoption of such regulations that would expand the number of properties in DEEP’s cleanup programs. DEEP should also continue its positive efforts to achieve greater compliance through education and technical assistance, and the state should continue to reform its brownfield programs to encourage private-sector investment in developing these properties.

Labor and employment costs. Remove barriers to job creation by controlling business costs and reducing administrative burdens. Among CBIA’s recommendations are that the state modify the paid sick leave law so that Connecticut employers are able to administer it more effectively. Specifically, the law should be changed to:

  • Allow employers the flexibility to administer the leave on a calendar, fiscal, or alternative-year basis.
  • Exempt manufacturers as originally intended.
  • Permit employers to address absenteeism that results from the misuse of paid sick leave.
  • Allow employers to verify their number of employees by the same method used under the state’s family leave law.

CBIA also recommends that the state take action to control workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation costs through steps such as:

  • Eliminating barriers to allowing hospitals, self-insured employers, and insurers to negotiate appropriate charges for medical services in workers’ comp cases
  • Ensuring unemployment comp recipients are actively trying to return to the workforce

Corporate governance and liability. Make Connecticut’s corporate laws consistent with those of competitor states. Steps policymakers should take include appropriately recognizing the vitally important role boards of directors play in corporate governance and updating state antitrust laws to put Connecticut on a level playing field with our competitor states.

A Stronger Connecticut

Education and workforce development. Implement the landmark education reforms passed last year. CBIA urges state policymakers to focus on several goals to improve education, close the achievement gap, and strengthen workforce development programs. For example:

  • Remove red tape to allow students and schools to achieve their academic goals. Steps include streamlining certification programs to attract and retain qualified teachers and administrators and establishing an alternative route to certification for school administrators.
  • Ensure that the state’s recent education reforms are implemented effectively so that students get the tools they need to become tomorrow’s competitive workforce. Policymakers should, for example, plan to further increase the number of available pre-K opportunities and identify a process to ensure the quality of existing and future pre-K seats.
  • Measure the effectiveness of education programs to determine whether adjustments are necessary by, for example, reviewing grant programs to ensure funds are reaching the schools most in need.
  • Expand manufacturing internships to include opportunities for minors not involved in a school or secondary-education manufacturing or mechanical program.

Manufacturing. Adopt policies that allow Connecticut’s manufacturers to grow, create jobs, and drive economic recovery. CBIA urges policymakers to support Connecticut’s manufacturers through commonsense improvements in education, environmental, tax, and economic development policies. Specific action steps include adopting the recommendations of the National Governors Association Policy Academy that will provide manufacturers with the policies, business environment, and resources they need to innovate and compete globally.

Energy and telecommunications. Promote policies that deliver reliable, diverse, and affordable energy and telecommunications infrastructures that give Connecticut greater flexibility to meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards and possess a diverse portfolio of energy sources to fuel our economy—including natural gas, large-scale hydropower, nuclear, fuel oil, clean coal, and renewables.

Transportation. Upgrade Connecticut’s infrastructures through strategic, priority investments. Steps include expediting the implementation of priority transportation projects that will help drive economic recovery, working with the Connecticut Airport Authority to ensure that the state achieves the full economic potential of our airports, and implementing a strategic plan to bring all roads and bridges into good repair. ■

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com. Read the complete CBIA Governement Affairs Program here and urge your state legislators to adopt its recommendations.

Head of Curtis Packaging Elected to Chair CBIA’s Board

Board of directors selects full slate of officers at Dec. 6 meeting

Donald R Droppo, Jr., CEO of Curtis Packaging in Sandy Hook, was elected chair of CBIA’s board of directors at the association’s Dec. 6 board meeting. He will serve a one-year term, succeeding Thomas S. Santa, president and CEO of Santa Energy Corporation in Bridgeport, who becomes immediate past chair.

CBIA’s board also elected two vice-chairs, James P. Torgerson, president and CEO of UIL Holdings Corporation in New Haven, and Donna R. Galluzzo, Ph.D., president and CEO of HMS Healthcare Management Solutions Inc. in Wallingford.

“Going into this very important legislative session, which has great potential for impacting not just the fiscal issues facing Connecticut but also our future economic vitality, we’re very pleased that such a strong group of business and community leaders will be heading up our board,” says John Rathgeber, CBIA’s president and CEO. “Don, Jim, Donna, and Tom have shown true commitment to creating a more competitive economic climate in Connecticut, a critical factor in maintaining high-paying jobs and the great quality of life we have in the state. CBIA will greatly benefit from their knowledge and expertise in the months ahead.”

Donald R. Droppo, Jr.

Droppo was named president and CEO of Curtis Packaging in 2010. Under his leadership, the company dramatically increased sales and rebranded itself “luxuriously responsible,” becoming the first printing and packaging company in North America to be Forest Stewardship Council certified, manufacture using 100% clean renewable energy, and be carbon neutral. In 2011, he was named one of Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40” most promising young leaders.

Prior to his appointment as president and CEO, Droppo served as the senior vice president of marketing, responsible for marketing, sales, and innovation. Before joining Curtis, he was an assistant vice president at General Reinsurance, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. Droppo holds a B.S. in marketing and finance from the University of Vermont. He lives in Avon with his wife and their three children.

James P. Torgerson

Torgerson became president and CEO of UIL Holdings Corporation in 2006. (UIL is the parent company of several energy firms: The United Illuminating Company, Southern Connecticut Gas Company, and Connecticut Natural Gas.)

Previously, he was president and CEO of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc. and a member of its board of directors. Before joining the Midwest ISO, he served as CFO for several gas and electric utilities in North America.

Actively involved in the community, Torgerson serves in many capacities, including as board member of Yale New Haven Hospital, the Edison Electric Institute, the American Gas Association, and the Business Council of Fairfield County. He is also chair of REX Regional Growth Partnership and the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, and he serves as a trustee of the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools.

A native of Cleveland, Torgerson received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Cleveland State University.

Donna R. Galluzzo, Ph.D.

Galluzzo is president and CEO of HMS Healthcare Management Solutions Inc. in Wallingford. HMS was founded in 1996 and provides a full range of services for physician practices, homecare, hospice, long-term care, and other healthcare providers.

Prior to starting HMS, Galluzzo was president and COO of Connecticut VNA Inc., which owned and operated the largest network of home health agencies in New England. She also was a principal at AccessOne Health Systems LLC, a Connecticut state-licensed utilization and case management organization. In addition, she was a principal at Professional Home Care Services Inc. and OMNI Home Health Services Inc.

Galluzzo has received numerous honors and awards. Most recently, she was named a Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Women in Healthcare Honoree.

She earned her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from the University of Connecticut and remains committed to lifelong learning. Much of her energies are spent serving on educational boards and sponsoring multiple projects for schools in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives in Durham with her husband, who is a retired lawyer and businessman. They have three young adult children.

Thomas S. Santa

Santa joined Santa Energy in 1982 and became president and CEO in 2004. He is a third-generation family member to lead the company, transforming it from a local family heating oil dealer to a major New England energy supplier.

Santa pioneered the marketing of low-sulfur heating fuels, bio fuels, and natural gas and has an active consulting practice in energy conservation and energy price risk management.

He serves on the boards of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Connecticut Maritime Coalition, Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut, and the Barnum Festival.

A licensed professional engineer, Santa earned a B.S. from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. from the University of Bridgeport. He lives in Redding. ■

For more information, visit CBIA.

Governor: No Intention of Raising Taxes

Will the state legislature follow his lead?

Pictured with the governor are CBIA board chair Tom Santa, president and CEO of Santa Energy Corporation (left), and Michael Wise, president of ConnectiCare.

Early next year, Gov. Dannel Malloy will present a new budget to the General Assembly. Two years removed from the largest tax increase in the state’s history, the governor has different plans this time around.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of Washington,” he told more than 400 business leaders at CBIA’s Annual Meeting in Hartford, “but I don’t intend to raise taxes. We’ve done enough of that. We need to live within the means that we’ve established, and we need to continue the process of becoming substantially more efficient in the provision of [state] services.”

Despite progress that’s already been made, reaching those goals is absolutely critical, especially given that the state is already on course to end the current fiscal year

(FY 2013) with a $60.1 budget deficit, a shortfall that could reach $200 according to current estimates by the Office of the State Comptroller. Whether the majority party in the state Senate and House follow the governor’s lead, however, remains to be seen.

Business Speed

The administration’s focus during the last budget cycle, the governor said, was on “getting our own fiscal house in order,” while making government more efficient.

“It’s not easy. It’s not pretty,” he said, “But we have to approach the business of government the same way that you approach running your businesses.

“I’m not a job creator. You’re the job creators. Government needs to get off your backs and get to yes or no in a reasonable period of time—not measured by the glacial speed that government normally reacts at, but at the speed that business has to be conducted at.” ■