State lawmakers should prioritize job-creating legislation in final hours

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Tesla Motors

A Tesla Model S

Connecticut is at risk of losing an opportunity to boost the state’s economy and create hundreds of jobs unless lawmakers act quickly on pro-growth legislation.

With just hours before the regular legislative session comes to a close, the legislature has yet to pass a bill seeks to change existing laws related to vehicle sales, allowing manufacturers — such as Tesla — to open brick-and- mortar stores across Connecticut where they can sell cars directly to consumers.

It’s important because Tesla, the nation’s most valuable car maker, is looking to increase its Connecticut footprint with ten new locations identified statewide. Each site will create up to 25 jobs, in addition to millions of dollars in direct community investment and tax revenue annually.

Without a law change, Connecticut will lose out on Tesla’s significant job creation and investment.

Tesla’s stores look less like a traditional car dealership and more like an Apple Store. At a Tesla store, consumers walk around freely and can ask questions without the pressure of salespeople. It’s more of an educational experience, and if a customer decides to test drive, or buy, a car, there is no haggling over price. It’s a different sales model that provides consumers with another buying option.

Connecticut is one of only four states that bans selling cars directly to customers. Not only does the direct to consumer sales ban keep the nation’s largest car company from creating jobs and further investing in the Constitution State, but it also makes us less economically competitive with neighboring states.

The post-recession job recovery rate of New York and Massachusetts is far greater than it is in Connecticut. While the Empire State has recovered more than 300 percent of jobs lost during the Great Recession, and the Bay State has recovered over 290 percent, the Constitution State has recovered less than 75 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparison, the U.S. national average for post-recession job recovery is 184 percent.

With this in mind, and both New York and Massachusetts already allowing direct car sales to consumers, we’ve been losing the competition for Tesla jobs, too. Currently, Tesla employs more than 1,000 people in the Empire State, over 510 in the Bay State, and less than 230 in the Constitution State.

By changing the law to allow for additional car sales options in Connecticut, we can better position our state to win the competition for tomorrow’s jobs. Also, in allowing for direct car sales to consumers, state lawmakers will be doing right by a majority of state residents. In fact, a recent survey found that a plurality of folks across the state are supportive of direct consumer car sales in Connecticut.

Today, more than 1,300 Tesla’s are registered across the state. The nation’s largest car company currently has a footprint that’s no greater than a Greenwich store and a Milford service facility.

Tomorrow, that could change significantly, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars in economic development and tax revenue across the state. To make this happen, state lawmakers need to act quickly or risk our state losing out on a significant opportunity to grow our economy for present and future generations.

Brett Broesder is Co-Founder and Vice President of the Campaign for Tomorrow’s Jobs, which focuses on growing Connecticut’s economy for present and future generations in three key policy areas: workforce preparedness, business growth; innovation and fiscal sustainability.

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