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May 28, 2018 Government

CT Tech Council pushes policy agenda

Photo | HBJ File Bruce Carlson, CEO of the CT Tech Council, which is hosting a gubernatorial forum next month.

The Connecticut Technology Council wants gubernatorial candidates to keep the needs of the state's approximately 6,000 tech companies front-of-mind this summer.

The tech council this month issued a member survey that helped develop the group's “growth agenda,” which identifies getting the state's “fiscal house in order” as the most important task for the next governor.

“There is simply too much uncertainty in the business atmosphere right now for any significant growth to take hold,” said Bruce Carlson, CEO of the East Hartford-based industry group.

About 341 people from the tech council's company database, nearly half of which were C-level tech execs, responded to the first-quarter survey. The council also conducted several focus groups around the state to develop its agenda, which was released ahead of a June 13 gubernatorial candidate forum it has organized in Trumbull.

The tech council wants the next governor to use the recent work of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth as a blueprint.

“While others may find problems in specific recommendations, this represents the only plan on the table for discussion,” the tech council said.

That CEO-led commission had hoped for the legislature to pass its entire package of wide-ranging tax, fiscal and economic policy recommendations this year, but was largely unsuccessful in doing so.

Tech leaders also cited the state's poor transportation infrastructure and lack of regional collaboration as primary reasons for Connecticut's relatively sluggish recovery from the last recession.

The tech industry is hoping that a strategic economic growth plan can be formulated and implemented across state agencies, overseen by a cabinet-level economic growth coordinator — which would be a new position.

The survey also raised concerns about attracting a tech workforce, noting that companies are filling talent needs through the use of virtual employees.

Survey respondents are recommending a statewide tech job board to connect employers with talent, more computer science and STEM education, public financing to assist with hiring, and additional tax credits for investing in Connecticut companies.

The survey noted several strengths Connecticut could leverage, including its educated workforce, quality of life, location within a high-tech corridor, growing startup community and relatively high middle-market growth.

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