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Lamont launches economic revitalization tour in southeastern CT

Gov.-elect Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov.-elect Susan Bysiewicz (foreground) talk with reporters at The Garde Arts Center in New London.  In the background are regional economic development official Nancy Cowser and Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme.  (Keith Phaneuf, CTMirror.org)

Gov.-elect Ned Lamont launched a series of strategic economic development tours Friday with a visit to Connecticut’s southeastern corner, saying the region exemplifies the state’s potential for growth.

Lamont and Lt. Gov.-elect Susan Bysiewicz, along with the region’s state legislative delegation, met with business, labor, education and municipal leaders, as well as representatives of the tribal casinos and regional economic development boards.

Southeastern Connecticut has been dominating the state’s economic development headlines with a major job expansion planned at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, a surging public-private manufacturing training and job placement program, and the nation’s largest offshore wind farm under development 50 miles into the Atlantic.

But Lamont, who is planning several economic development stops as part of his transition into office, said it wasn’t the region’s recent successes that led him there first.

“It really was a question of attitude as well,” Lamont told reporters during a mid-day briefing at The Garde Arts Center in New London. “This state has so many extraordinary advantages and we need people who talk about the strengths of our state.”

Lamont, whose campaign message was centered on a positive approach toward Connecticut’s fiscal challenges, said he’s looking for partners ready to be enthusiastic about the state’s economic future.

“I need people to stand up and believe that we’ve got some great times ahead of us in this state. We’re going to get through this fiscal thing,” he said, referring to surging pension costs expected to place extreme pressure on state finances for the next decade and a half. “We’re going to do it by working together and then going forward we’re going to make the investments we need to get this state moving again.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced $85 million in state incentives in May to help Electric Boat add 1,900 workers and expand its submarine-building shipyard over the better part of the next two decades.

The General Assembly endorsed $50 million in bonding for a “manufacturing pipeline” initiative that links state community colleges and trade schools with EB and other advanced manufacturers. This job training and placement program already has found jobs for more than 1,000 participants.

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, one of the program’s most ardent supporters, said efforts continue to expand, even at the high school level. Over the past year, Norwich Free Academy has begun partnering with local trade businesses to get training and job experience for students, she said.

“We’re not Silicon Valley when it comes to computer science, but we are the Silicon Valley of advanced manufacturing,” Lamont said, adding that he would seek to build on these efforts.

Lamont, who insisted he will try to de-polarize Connecticut politics, toured the region with Republican lawmakers as well as fellow Democrats.

Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said she believes the governor-elect’s outreach was more than symbolic. “I felt that today,” she said. “I felt that our suggestions and ideas were taken seriously.”

The Long Island Power Authority gave the green light last year to the development of an offshore wind farm stretching from the eastern tip of Long Island to Martha’s Vineyard — placing New London right in the center.

Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said this project — and all of the region’s surging economic activity — only underscores the need to jump-start the state’s transportation infrastructure rebuild.

“We’re really blossoming in eastern Connecticut with all of the various projects that are going on,” he said, adding that if businesses cannot move goods efficiently and quickly, opportunities will be lost.

That imperative extends not only to the wind farm under development and advanced manufacturing, but to another linchpin of the southeastern corner: tourism.

“If a family gets stuck for two hours on (Intertate) 95 on their way to visit Mystic Seaport, they’re not going to come back,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The region’s transportation needs extend beyond highways, Sheridan said, adding Connecticut needs to increase rail trips linking the region both with New York and with Boston.

The largest tourism draw — both for the region and the state — are the Foxwoods Resorts Casino and the Mohegan Sun casino. Both facilities have seen their gaming revenues decline in recent years in the face of increased competition from new casinos in neighboring states.

Lamont declined to weigh in during the campaign as to whether Connecticut should end that arrangement and open the door for a new casino to be developed in a major city, such as Bridgeport.

But while he didn’t offer many specifics, the governor-elect said Friday that his economic development plans for the region and the state absolutely include the Mashantucket Pequot tribe — which owns and operates Foxwoods — and the Mohegan tribe and its casino.

“The tribes have been amazing partners for this state going back a generation,” he said. “Gaming is part of the entire hospitality business. … This is part of what we are here in southeastern Connecticut. We’re going to be strong partners going forward.”

One specific Lamont did offer involves sports betting.

Connecticut has been “a little slow off the draw” responding to a U.S. Supreme Court decision this year that legalized sports betting in all states, he said, adding that it’s time for the state to establish regulations. This also would provide a new source of revenue for the state, but Connecticut couldn’t act unilaterally as long as it participates in its revenue-sharing deal with the tribes.

Lamont agreed.

“I can’t do that,” he said, “unless we have the tribes at the table.”

5 comments

Piberman November 10, 2018 at 11:22 am

Nice “victory lap” getting press attention. Everyone understands the Governor faces a “mission impossible”. Past is prologue in CT. Democrats largely were responsible for our decade long stagnant economy. Now they have another chance to demonstrate their “skills”. Lucky us. No wonder the “smart monies’ are calling the movers. Just take a look at high end homes for sale in the Gold Coat. Or Norwalk.

Ron Morris November 10, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Piberman

Your broken record post after post is a bit much.. Have you considered moving instead of constantly complaining.

Rick November 10, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Ron your obviously not a home owner, we lost $100,000 on or property where selling means going to the bank with a check to get out with just Firetree alone. Homeowners can leave anytime and leave any investment profit behind.

Connecticut’s southeastern corner? What rep from there did Norwalk send.

Ever think even a Democrat like Ned knows who got the State into this mess?

Lets see how much money comes to Norwalk, we did get all that money for the Bridge money for Ryan park which by the way sits there unfinished and the remediation at the schools via laws that made it twice expensive via Duff Perone and environmental unions.

We lost a hotel with a grand function hall and got a lifestyle mall now the city is on the hook for to protect and serve,

I don’t see any future problems do you?

stagnant economy? Norwalks mascot is the Tyvek Temple any idea how we hide that from new business looking at the city with the above credits to Norwalk future?

The bars thrive in cities like ours major dining rooms in the city are replaced with food trucks.

This is why the only place in Ct to buy into is its trailer parks , when you leave you can take it all with you .

$50 million in bonding for a “manufacturing pipeline” initiative that links state community colleges and trade schools with EB and other advanced manufacturers. This job training and placement program already has found jobs for more than 1,000 participants. (sounds Great!)

18 Connecticut Community Colleges out of 97 Connecticut Colleges, Community Colleges, and Trade Schools.

Take the 50 million add largest merger of community colleges in New England’s history where saving 28 million in Cts where Higher education has regularly been targeted for cuts to close state budget deficits and what do you get?

25,000 skilled workers over the next decade is the projected number of workers needed .

we have what over 60.000 in community colleges right now?

hospitality business? No reason for a hotel in Norwalk was there?

Right before the election the State was notified a few large companies were leaving the State , it was not who was going to win or lose its all about what we have already.

This mall was planned when the State was just admitting things were bad, wonder what they are planning now that tolls are coming?

“smart monies’ are what the mall stockholders were banking on. Since this mall broke ground two other malls and an outlet mall have opened within reach less the tolls another mall planned in Bridgeport at the suspected casino another in Stratford.

Whats our $600 million dollar mall going to need from the city when it opens?

Piberman November 11, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Ron Morris:

Can you explain why Norwalk’s Grand List has been stagnant for nearly a decade. Since homeowners comprise 90% of our Grand List that means a potential loss of billions dollars of potential property appreciation. Nationally the country is experiencing its most vigorous post War housing boom. Norwalks
declining housing values doesn’t buttress City Hall’s claim that “Norwalk is CT’s Greatest City”.

New comers are not buying homes here becasue of punitive property taxes and fears of further declines in housing prices. Shouldn’t we be “concerned”. Especially when Danbury spends 30% less per capita than Norwalk on providing City services.

Norwalk has the smallest proportion of its Grand List from business of any major in the State. Can you explain why business avoids Norwalk surrounded by wealthy Gold Coast towns.

Should we be concerned that Norwalk is the County’s most transient City where renters are now 40% up from 30% and moving closer to Bridgeport’s 60% figure.

Or should we just trust our City’s leadership to do “better’. Let us know please.

There still are some resident old timers who remember 3 and 4 decades when Norwalk was recognized as one of CT’s best governed communities. With low City worker salaries, low property taxes, appreciating home values and new homeowners anxiously buying up homes as soon as they were listed for sale. Now we have highly paid City workers and falling property values. See any connection here ?

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