TGIF for Malloy: New jobs stats, insurance deal

Significant economic challenges still face Connecticut, meaning significant political challenges for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. But two pieces of good economic news came his way Friday, and he was happy to trumpet them.

The state Department of Labor revised its employment numbers upward, giving Malloy a midterm number of about 22,000 private sector jobs created since taking office in January 2011. And an insurer is moving from Rye Brook, N.Y., to Stamford. The department previously had reported a decline for 2012.

“It’s a great day to be Irish,” Malloy said.

The Navigators Group, a specialty insurance holding company with $1.2 billion in annual revenue, is relocating its corporate headquarters and other operations to Stamford, promising to create 200 jobs within five years.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms one thing. Connecticut is still the insurance capital of the United States,” Malloy said. “We’re not resting on our laurels. We cannot afford to.”

To entice Navigators across the border, the state offered inducements that could be worth $11.5 million, nearly half the $25 million investment in a Stamford location that is not yet public. The state is providing a $3.5 million grant and a 10-year interest-free loan of $8 million, forgivable if employment goals are reached.

The Malloy administration previously promised a much larger package worth as much as $71 million to coax Cigna to designate its Bloomfield campus as its headquarters, generating between 200 and 800 jobs.

Stanley A. Galanski, the president and chief operating officer of Navigators, was a gracious recipient, offering a testimonial to Connecticut as “pro-business,” a description not often heard in a state that ranks low in many surveys of business executives.

“There are a lot of states that claim to be pro-business. A lot of them take out ads on TV and in the media. That’s one thing,” said Galanski, who is leaving a state that has been aggressively advertising its business climate.

Galanski, who was in talks with the Malloy administration for a year, praised two Malloy commissioners who have received solid reviews in the business community, Insurance Commissioner Tom Leonardi and Catherine Smith, who oversees economic development.

“We knew we were dealing with the real deal,” Galanski said.

The announcement was made in the lobby of the state Insurance Department in Hartford. Galanski has negotiated a deal for a Stamford location, but he declined say where until the agreement is signed.

Connecticut does not have the most insurance jobs of any state, but its 58,000 positions give the state the distinction of having the highest per-capita insurance employment.