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Contact: Adam Joseph

January 24, 2012

Senate Democrats Begin Rollout of 2012 Jobs Agenda

Democratic plan focuses on expanding loans and credits to more companies, promoting state businesses, growing jobs for veterans

MANCHESTER—Senate Democrats held a news conference today on the shop floor of AdChem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester—just two weeks before the start of the 2012 legislative session—to announce their new, 5-point jobs plan that will help local, small businesses protect and grow jobs and boost Connecticut’s economy.

Citing job growth as the top priority for Senate Democrats this year, Democratic senators detailed their plans to build on the momentum created by the comprehensive and far-reaching jobs bill passed during October’s special session. One of their new proposals expands existing state business loans and grants to an additional 2,600 local companies.

“As Connecticut continues its economic recovery, the legislature must continue its focus on growing jobs, helping businesses expand and assisting people who have lost a job find permanent, new employment,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn). “By significantly expanding our Small Business Express Program, we can build on the solid foundation of the October jobs bill and continue to put Connecticut residents back to work.”

“Our number one priority this legislative session is putting people back to work and helping Connecticut businesses create good jobs,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “The October jobs bill was a historic first step. Now we will build on that progress and improve programs already in place to expand employment opportunities for combat veterans and promote and grow Connecticut industry.”

The Senate Democrats’ 5-point jobs plan includes:

  1. Expanding the definition of a ‘small business’ from 50 employees to 100 employees, thereby making them eligible for the Small Business Express Program and other programs created during the October special session. More than 2,600 additional businesses would now be eligible for $180 million in state-funded business loans and grants under the expanded definition. The funds, divided over two years, are available to state businesses for new job creation incentives, increasing financial assistance for small businesses and for training assistance. Small businesses (100 or fewer employees) are real job creators in Connecticut, employing over 60 percent of the state’s total workforce. The Small Business Express Program supports the retention and growth of small business in Connecticut through a combination of loans and grants, incorporating a streamlined process that provides financial assistance in the form of revolving loan funds, job creation incentives and matching grants. “For companies like AdChem Manufacturing Technologies, which are close to the 50-employee mark and which are looking to expand, this proposed extension of the Small Business Express Program to 100 employees would benefit us greatly,” AdChem President Michael Polo said today.
  2. Expanding Step-Up (Subsidized Training and Employment Program) to give businesses incentive grants to hire post-9/11 combat veterans returning from overseas. The Step-Up program already promotes job creation and worker opportunity for Connecticut small businesses and the unemployed by subsidizing certain new employee training and employment with $20 million in state aid over two years; the proposed expansion of the program would specifically help veterans. It was recently reported that nationally, the average unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 is 30 percent, more than double the unemployment rate of non-veterans of the same age. According to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in Connecticut in 2010 was 15.5 percent, compared with 11.5 percent nationally. For all veterans, the unemployment figure in Connecticut in 2010 was 9.2 percent, compared with 8.7 percent nationally.
  3. Creating a ‘Connecticut Made’ marketing campaign to spur local businesses, both production and retail. The campaign would be administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which would create a logo; develop a marketing campaign to include logo-based advertising for placement in store fronts and at fairs and markets; a Web site; and create membership criteria for businesses. Businesses that join the program would be given access to use of logo, tags for products, inclusion in marketing campaigns (including fairs and The Big E), marketing and business advice from the Small Business Office of DECD, and promotional and marketing outreach and printed materials.
  4. Preventing discrimination against the unemployed. Statutory changes would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants simply because they are unemployed, including preventing employment agencies and Web sites from carrying advertisements for job openings that specifically exclude the unemployed. The federal Labor Department reports that 14 million Americans are currently unemployed, almost half of them classified as ‘long-term unemployed,’ having been out of work for 27 weeks or more. In the current economy, some employers are taking advantage of the high jobless rate by discriminating against the unemployed, going as far as to say “unemployed need not apply” in their job postings, or offering jobs only to those who are either currently employed or very recently unemployed.
  5. Creating a ‘Connecticut Treasures’ program. Connecticut has a wealth of educational and tourist destinations, and the state DECD would be tasked with promoting places such as Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut Science Center, Stepping Stones Museum and Dinosaur State Park. The state Department of Education could simultaneously develop a model curriculum for all public schools that incorporates the use of these destinations.

Members of the Senate Democratic caucus joined Mr. Polo and caucus leaders on AdChem’s shop floor today to voice their support for the new jobs package.

“The doomsday predictions that manufacturing is dead in Connecticut are way off-base. All you have to do is look at the recent growth in small manufacturers like AdChem to see that. There is long-term stability there,” said state Sen. Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), whose Senate district includes AdChem. “Expanding the state’s Small Business Express Program from 50 to 100 employees is not only going to expand the base of potential applicants, it’s going to help firms like AdChem who are ready to undertake that next, big expansion if the state is there to support them.”

“There are many manufacturers here in Connecticut that would like to avail themselves of the opportunity to grow using our Small Business Express Program, but they cannot because of the 50-employee cap. Yet, they still want to and need to grow,” said state Sen. Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford), who is Senate Chairman of the Commerce Committee. “Expanding this program to manufacturers up to 100 employees will help them grow and will really hit the sweet spot among state manufacturers.”

“Growing Connecticut jobs and helping manufacturers fill and retain those jobs is what we’re all about,” said state Sen. Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), who is Senate Chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. “Each of these proposals does its part to move Connecticut toward our goal of more jobs and more economic activity, particularly among the small manufacturers who are the backbone of our economy and the future for much of our workforce.”

“Job creation remains our top legislative priority this year, and especially jobs for veterans, who have a much higher unemployment rate than the general population. In Connecticut, 15.5 percent of post 9/11 veterans are unemployed. We must do better for those who fought for our freedom, and our proposed expansion of the STEP Up program will help many veterans to find work. They fought valiantly for our country, they should not have to fight for jobs back home,” said Senator Carlo Leone (D-Stamford), Senate Chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

“More jobs are needed all across Connecticut, but especially in our urban centers, where unemployment is highest. Last year's STEP Up program was designed to help urban small businesses hire new employees. It was a good start, and I am optimistic that we can do more this year,” said Senator Ed Gomes (D-Bridgeport).

“Connecticut's unemployment rate continues to fall, which shows that our previous bipartisan jobs efforts are working—but we must do more. This session we can expand our existing job creation programs to include more small businesses, promote local Connecticut Made products, and help our unemployed veterans find good paying jobs,” said Senator Anthony Musto (D-Trumball).

“Job creation is our top priority, and we made a lot of progress in the October Jobs Bill. Business leaders are calling it the best legislative effort in the last 30 years. This session, we will build on that success and do even more to help Connecticut’s small businesses,” said state Sen. Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington).

That October jobs bill (Public Act 11-1), which passed the General Assembly on an overwhelming and bipartisan 181-2 vote, includes:

  • $10 million investment for towns to improve commercial centers
  • Cutting the business entity tax in half, saving state businesses $20 million
  • Providing funds for small businesses to expand, since banks aren’t lending
  • Increase government efficiency by streamlining processes, and eliminating or consolidating excessive regulations
  • Expanding and lowering the Angel Investment Tax Credit threshold to a minimum $25,000 investment
  • Enhanced educational offerings to match employer needs, with a focus on manufacturing
  • Investment of $50 million in shovel-ready, “Fix-It-First” bridge repair and replacement

For more on the October jobs bills, please visit our Grow Jobs Web page or download our summary of the 2011 Jobs Special Session.


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