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July 2, 2019 Viewpoint

A Conscious, Inclusive Future for Our Region

Larry L. Bingaman

Water plays a vital role in the economic health and growth of our region. That is why the Regional Water Authority (RWA) has been involved for years in encouraging job creation and retention throughout Greater New Haven. We hope that this Market Intelligence Report proves to be a valuable asset to members of the business community. We also recently announced a partnership with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce to fund a full-time position dedicated to promoting retention and expansion of business in our region. We believe there is great potential in this region for growth and are excited to be working hand-in-hand with the business community to move Connecticut forward.

However, economic prosperity will be of limited value if it is not shared by all people of our region. Fortunately, there is a recipe for this kind of inclusive economic growth: Conscious Capitalism.

Conscious Capitalism is a growing movement grounded in the belief that business must take stock of its impacts — not just on the companies we work for and the communities we support, but on the world at large, standing together in support of the social, environmental and financial well-being of all people. This ethos has been embraced by some of the world’s most successful companies, including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Patagonia. Conscious Capitalism has also been embraced by many local businesses, including the RWA, American Dream Clean and Watkins. Together we have found that the strategies that are most successful for our businesses are also those that produce the greatest good for the communities we serve.

Business can thrive under Conscious Capitalism, and so can our communities. When business seeks to do good, it can generate inclusive economic growth throughout our region. Inclusive growth brings prosperity into all corners of our community, including those that have struggled for decades with inequality and limited opportunities. Companies can promote inclusive growth by hiring locally, providing internships to local students, supporting education efforts and more.

At the RWA, we have made Conscious Capitalism and the promotion of inclusive growth central to our higher purpose, which is to improve the lives of people by delivering water for life. We and our affiliate, the Watershed Fund, have provided tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to local students, some of whom participate in our paid internship programs. These internships expose New Haven students to the opportunities available to them through a career in the utilities, while also providing good summer jobs.

Additionally, we have worked with Gateway Community College and Southern Connecticut State University to create first-in-the-nation public utility management degree programs that are educating the next generation of the water workforce. To further encourage the pursuit of education, the RWA covers the cost of tuition for any of our employees seeking to pursue a degree in public utility management.

By advancing inclusive growth, we promote a stronger, more vibrant greater New Haven community, and as more people in our region improve their financial standing, there will be more opportunity for them to support local businesses. Seeking inclusive growth through Conscious Capitalism isn’t just a feel-good activity, it is a competitive advantage that any business would be wise to pursue.

According to the book Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion & Purpose, research covering a 15-year period showed that by following the principles of Conscious Capitalism, companies improved their cultures and outperformed their peers 14-1. Consumers increasingly expect that the companies they do business with have a social mission. Employees who feel good about the positive work of their company are happier and more productive. Doing good in business benefits everyone.

To learn more about how you can do good for your business and for our region, consider joining the Connecticut Chapter of Conscious Capitalism. By working together, we can ensure that the future of greater New Haven is bright for every member of our community.

Larry L. Bingaman is the president and chief executive officer of the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) and the founder and chair of the board for the Connecticut Chapter of Conscious Capitalism.

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