Connecticut's technology executives warn the state risks falling behind in high technology jobs and development, and could lose them, unless it devises a cohesive strategy for supporting and nurturing the sector.
The Connecticut Technology Council in East Hartford issued its dire assessment in the wake of a six-month survey of high-tech businesses and leaders who voiced reservations in Connecticut's ability to nurture fast-growing startups and innovative research.
"The troubling news is that even though almost all the CEOs we talked to lead firms actually founded here, and they like Connecticut personally, they have serious concerns about their ability to thrive in this state,'' said CTC President and CEO Matthew Nemerson. "We risk losing their future job growth to other states or countries unless we address the weaknesses these very successful business leaders are pointing out in our job development strategies."
The council said the study's release is timed to coincide with the arrival of a new governor, Dan Malloy, as well as a new slate of state policymakers and budget setters.
Among shortcomings cited by the CTC and survey respondents: a lack of helpful networks to connect people in the tech world across the state and region; difficulty finding talented young workers outside Stamford and New Haven; a need for more early stage investment programs from state sources and more support for research links to the state's universities.
Tech CEOs also grumbled that many Connecticut state agencies seem oblivious, even indifferent, to the products and services they provide, or research they conduct, and no government plan to support them. Conversely, the executives say other states seem to know more about what they do in trying to persuade them to move away from Connecticut.
"Our research says we are falling behind other locations in the sheer number of fast-growing firms and most alarmingly, even those doing well may decide to leave in the future," said CTC Chairman Christopher Kalish, who is director of GE Edgelab in Stamford.
The surveys and companion research were conducted by a CTC task force, led by senior technology executives from United Techologies Corp., medical-device maker Covidien Plc in North Haven, automated machinery and software maker Gerber Technology in South Windsor, and supported by a team of graduate students from Yale and the University of Connecticut. Law firms Day Pitney and Pullman Comley also participated.