June 4, 2012

Murphy, Blumenthal ask manufacturers for update

Two members of Connecticut's congressional delegation are asking the state's manufacturers for an update on the industry.

After using similar input to shape policies last year, Rep. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, put out their second manufacturers' survey last week, asking for data on topics such as hiring, foreign trade, workforce development and taxes.

“I'm hoping there will be more insights about what manufacturing businesses need to grow,” Blumenthal said.

The duo received responses from more than 150 manufacturers in their survey last year, which they used to formulate their opinions toward a variety of federal policies.

Murphy said last year's survey cemented his thoughts on the importance of federal and defense contracts for Connecticut manufacturers, which forced him to push harder on getting appropriations to Connecticut and American companies.

The survey provided data to bring to the table when discussing federal policies, including the corporate tax burden, he said.

“That gives me some ammunition to make sure small businesses don't bear an undue burden,” Murphy said.

The survey is available on the Murphy and Blumenthal's congressional web sites.

Using last year's survey, Blumenthal said he emphasized skilled training for the manufacturing workforce. This led to his Community College Innovation Act, which was introduced — but not passed — last year.

Blumenthal also backed greater fair foreign trade, particularly with China, after last year's survey revealed growing problems with Connecticut manufacturers' trade in Asia.

From this year's survey, Blumenthal hopes to gather more data on tax laws, tax credits and the hiring of military veterans.

Last year's survey included several questions on whether Connecticut manufacturers would be hiring in the near future. Murphy hopes to get some follow-up to that round of questions and find out more about hiring this year.

This kind of data is great to use in Washington, as it offers real-world feedback from people in the industry, Murphy said.

“This survey got around Washington pretty quickly,” Murphy said. “It has become a resource for others on the federal level as well.”

Jerry Clupper, executive director of the New Haven Manufacturers Association, said the information works on the state level as well, where legislators and other government officials can use the data to shape Connecticut's policies.

“It does give good information,” Clupper said. “We hear good stories about it getting out to people on the federal level and the state level.”

This year's survey likely will have more responses with a different outlook on the industry and the economy, Clupper said.

“I'm guessing people will be a little bit more optimistic, but not wildly so,” Clupper said.

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