The Day, Jan. 26, 2011: The owner of Yardney Technical Products Inc. in Pawcatuck said Tuesday that the company will move its operation and its 150 employees to a new building in East Greenwich, R.I. President Yevoli said he tried to find a location in Connecticut but was unable to find one that met his needs. He has also said it would be too expensive to retrofit the current space. Yevoli declined to comment about the interest of Connecticut officials except to say, “Their sense of urgency was a little disappointing.”

The Day, Feb. 1, 2011: Pfizer Inc. will reduce its workforce in the region by 1,100 people over the next year and a half as its Groton campus shifts from a drug-discovery site to a support center for research and development, the company confirmed today.

The layoffs would leave the pharmaceutical giant with nearly 3,400 employees in Groton

Pfizer said the Groton lab’s neuroscience and cardiovascular research units will be moved to Cambridge, Mass., as part of a new strategy to boost innovation and address productivity issues.

Hartford Business Journal, March 4, 2011: Manchester manufacturer Lydall Inc. plans to spend $18.5 million to expand its North Carolina plant that makes automotive heat and vibration dampeners, creating an extra 170 jobs over the next three years, reports.

Hartford Business Journal, March 16, 2011: Danbury gas supplier Praxair, Inc. announced it will double the capacity of its Memphis, Tenn. air separation complex to provide more oxygen and nitrogen to two key customers.

With the expansion, Praxair will add 400 tons of liquid production capacity to serve North Carolina steel manufacturer Nucor Corp. and Texas power manufacturer Valero Energy Corp.

Hartford Courant, March 24, 2011: Lower personnel costs and better tax incentives attracted fast-growing Windsor-based SS&C Technologies Inc. to invest $4 million in a new facility in Evansville, Ind., over at least four other locations. And Connecticut was not on the short list.

Companies decisions as to where to invest are based on many factors. In the case of Lydall and Praxair mentioned above it would appear that their investments decisions were based on expanding capabilities already existing in other states and/or driven by transportation or other logistical customer needs. Fair enough.

The three other cases mentioned are a lot more troublesome.

  • I cannot believe that the state could not find a suitable location for Yardney. But even more damning is the statement from their president about the state’s lack of a sense of urgency. Where were our economic development officials in late 2010 when the decision was made?
  • Back in 1998, Pfizer received over $60 millions in tax incentives. The move just announced will leave fewer jobs in our state than the company had prior to the incentives being given! What factors were at play in their decision? Were our economic development officials engaged with the company to dissuade them from this move? How do we make future decisions about such investments?
  • The SS&C Technologies announcement is extremely problematic: A company based in Connecticut concludes that our state does not make the cut of the top five when selecting a location for its new investment. It is fair to ask, How long will that company stay in Connecticut?

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his nominee to head the Department of Economic and Community Development, Catherine Smith, have indeed inherited an extremely difficult situation. I would suggest they start by looking at some these cases to better understand the dynamics of the decision making process and what steps can be taken to make our state more competitive both for companies already here and those we may wish to attract.

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