Targeting business for Connecticut:  Attract globally, welcome locally

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In football, no matter how perfect the spiral leaving the quarterback’s hand, no matter if the pass is aimed precisely right, if the receiver fails to turn around when the pass arrives it is likely to bounce away incomplete.  Or be intercepted.

Much the same is true when the state and its municipalities consider economic development.  The guiding phrase should be “attract globally, welcome locally.”  One without the other will not get the job done.

As Connecticut works diligently to attract businesses from overseas to locate operations in our state, we must be ready, willing and able to welcome them with a minimum of administrative and regulatory hurdles, responsive to their priorities.

At the state level, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) leads the charge.  But that is only one aspect of what’s needed.   Local governments that truly understand the needs and requisites of a business seeking to establish operations here are just as indispensable.

The good news is that Connecticut could not be positioned more strongly to attract global businesses to our state.  We have the blessing of geography, located in a region of the nation that is well-known worldwide and quite attractive.  Municipalities, however, often have homework to do. Fortunately, many are eagerly taking on that assignment.

In fact, more than 1,000 local officials in more than 45 communities across the state have utilized the municipal economic development training provided by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), which meticulously focuses on opportunities unique to individual communities, as well as sharing expertise that offers a broader perspective.

CERC is a nonprofit corporation and public-private partnership that provides economic development services, working closely with an extensive network of state, regional, local and utility partners to leverage Connecticut’s unique advantages as a premier business location.

In communities from Wallingford to Washington, Seymour to Southington, Fairfield to Chester, elected officials, appointed board and commission members, and involved residents have come together to work with CERC to better understand how their communities can best expand and strengthen economic development.

Utilizing the economic analyses and research capabilities that CERC offers, these communities have explored the data and drawn fact-based conclusions that will drive their economic development strategies.  CERC does not offer cookie-cutter solutions, because Connecticut’s municipalities must address their local challenges and opportunities based on their specific geographies, histories, populations and traditions if they are to be successful.

For communities concerned about losing potential commercial tax base because development is not happening seamlessly, CERC can and does help. And for municipal leaders and economic development officials (including volunteer members of local boards and commissions) frustrated by the lack of a cohesive economic development strategy, process or execution, CERC can and does help.

There will be potential game changers along the way, as the state’s international recruiting accelerates and local communities strive to score and sustain economic gains.  The ability to attract those prospects and seize those opportunities for Connecticut is largely determined not in those moments, but by the deliberation, preparation and collaboration that occurs now, not only in our home state but in each of our hometowns; all of us winning receivers.

Courtney Hendricson is vice president of municipal services at the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc.

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