Throughout Fairfield County, the center of wealth and business success in Connecticut, the economic recovery from the recession of 2009 continues steadily. Yet the optimism generated by this improvement is somewhat tempered by concerns felt throughout the region that the state is not as welcoming to businesses as it could be.
Even as businesses move towards pre-recession levels of growth, hiring and profitability, the relationship between the state’s elected leaders and the leaders of the business community is still seen by some as an impediment towards our state and region recognizing its true potential.
Recent discussions at regional chambers of commerce have centered on our competitiveness with other states, including border states, as well as those in different parts of the country. It is no secret that other states have made advances to a number of Connecticut companies about relocating all or part of their operations. While most businesses have agreed to stay for now, this is something that is expected to keep happening.
By improving the relationship between the public and private sectors, we can change Connecticut’s perception as a place that is less friendly to businesses than other parts of the country. Here’s an example of the impact this perception can have on the state and region. A recent survey indicates that 31% of businesses would consider moving their operations out of state. This number is higher than it’s been in recent years and is driven by increased taxes and regulations.
Businesses, by and large, like being in Connecticut and want to remain here. Connecticut’s quality of life-and specifically the quality of life in Fairfield County- is among the most favorable in the nation, aided by excellent schools, livable communities and a highly educated workforce. There are few locations nationwide more desirable for raising a family and establishing roots.
As someone who works with the Fairfield County business community on a daily basis, it is clear to me that businesses of all sizes value being a part of Connecticut, and ultimately would like to keep it that way. The key is building the relationship into something that is lasting and collaborative. If we can do that, everybody wins.