To all in elected office in Connecticut:
I am the owner of a 16-year-old Connecticut business. I am in the trenches every day. I have hundreds of Connecticut-based clients with thousands of employees who live and work all throughout the state. I hear their concerns. I live their issues. I know their issues. I am here to hopefully open your eyes to some realities, not perceptions, about the state when it comes to business.
My broader goal: to influence the way you vote on what are accurately assessed as anti-business bills, as well as influence what new policies or bills you even choose to propose the state implement, which in some cases also sends the strong and real message that the state is anti-business, even when these don’t get to a vote.
The facts are simple. When it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. To that end when The Wall Street Journal, CEO Magazine, The Atlantic, WalletHub and CNBC all call Connecticut a lousy place to work and/or a lousy place to run a business, it is not fake news. It’s also critical to point out that these outlets are not reporting articles based mostly on the opinions of the authors, but instead based on metrics. As such, pushing back and stating that these stories are somehow not accurate is both incorrect and ignorant.
If you think the actions of Connecticut government and those in elected office have not been directly influencing the state of business in Connecticut please open your eyes to the realities. Look at our depressed job recovery, our high rate of commercial real estate vacancies, the major employers heading to other states, our need to bribe major employers to come and some to stay, and collectively you will start to see that all those writing about Connecticut in such a negative light are reporting facts, not fiction.
To fix this at the legislative level you all need to get out and talk to business owners. Listen to them and their issues as a guide. They will tell you that they need Connecticut to reduce regulation. They want to see aggressively pushed programs that support hiring and training initiatives. They want to see programs geared for every business versus just the biggest ones.
Stop with the proposals that businesses see as a threat to their existence, like paid leave. Let those come from the federal level, or just leave that to the states who can afford to implement them. We can’t.
Finally, it’s imperative we learn who has moved into the state so we can match them up with local (or soon to be local) employers seeking their skills. Stamford, for example, has close to 5,000 new residents in the high rises that dot the south end, and most get on the train to work elsewhere. Imagine if we had jobs for them here in town?
The future today for Connecticut as a place to do business is bleak. The statistics don’t lie. If we are to turn the tide we must embrace who we are, confront the issues many inside state government apparently fail to see, and then implement a plan to fix them.
David Lewis is a Stamford resident. He is CEO of OperationsInc in Norwalk, a human resources consultancy. He also runs two business groups of note – The CEO Roundtable and The HR Roundtable. David is also Board Emeriti of the CBIA.