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December 16, 2013 In Brief

CT minimum wage hike hits employers Jan. 1

There's been lots of news recently about efforts to raise the minimum wage in cities and states across the country.

Just last week, for example, city lawmakers in the District of Columbia voted to increase that region's minimum wage to $11.50 an hour from the current $8.25 over three years. Meanwhile, President Obama recently called for a hike in the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25, to stem the growing wage gap between rich and poor Americans.

The minimum wage debate is particularly relevant in Connecticut, and provides a friendly reminder to employers about the looming wage hike set to take effect Jan. 1.

During the 2013 legislative session state lawmakers approved Connecticut's first minimum wage hike since 2010.

On Jan. 1 the state's hourly minimum wage will increase from $8.25 to $8.70. Employers will have to boost minimum wage pay again on Jan. 1, 2015 to $9.

The law, however, does shield some hotels and restaurants from the higher costs by increasing the so-called “tip credit” in each of those years. That will keep the employer's share of hotel and wait staff's hourly wages at its current $5.69 and bartenders' hourly wages at $7.34.

CT's $200M bioscience fund faces new competition

Connecticut is facing stiff competition from a border state in its efforts to grow and nurture the bioscience industry.

The administration of outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to create a $100 million fund to invest in life sciences companies. The public-private fund includes a $10 million investment from the city and $40 million from pharmaceutical companies Celgene Corp. and Eli Lilly & Co., and GE Ventures. New York also is looking for a venture capital firm to manage the fund and invest an additional $50 million.

The venture pool closely mirrors the $200 million bioscience fund created by Connecticut lawmakers earlier this year, and signals that competition to attract and grow bioscience firms is intensifying.

Boston, San Diego and San Francisco are considered U.S. biotech hotbeds, but there is a major push by other cities and states to get a piece of what is expected to be a growing industry.

Connecticut's fund is being managed by Connecticut Innovations and will provide grants, equity investments, loans and loan guarantees to bioscience related initiatives over the next 10 years.

CI CEO Claire Leonardi downplayed the competitive stakes, saying she was “pleased to hear about New York City's plans for a venture fund for life sciences.”

“There is a tremendous lack of money available to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies in this high-growth area, and commitments from Connecticut and now New York City to provide venture capital money will go a long way toward commercializing new ideas, improving health, and helping us remain competitive in this vital industry,” Leonardi said.

In addition to investing in early stage companies, CI will also provide capital to researchers who are still only in the idea stage, meaning they've made a discovery in a lab but haven't yet formed a viable business.

The riskier investment approach aims to fill a critical funding gap that could help drive commercialization of more bioscience research and ideas into actual products, services and businesses. Venture capital funding is a key component of growing start-up companies, but most funds shy away from making investments in early stage businesses.

That is where bioscience funds like those being pitched in Connecticut and New York City can come into play.

Meanwhile, Connecticut and New York City are also investing heavily in bioscience infrastructure. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy led passage of the $864 million Bioscience Connecticut initiative in 2011. New York is prepping for build out of more than 1 million-square-feet of life sciences lab space.

Read more

Malloy calls for highest min. wage in the country

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