HARTFORD – State Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Guilford) hailed passage last night of a landmark Jobs Bill that will bolster the economy by supporting small businesses, growing jobs and fostering pride in Connecticut-made products and state tourism treasures.
The legislation, which passed in the House and Senate during today’s budget implementer session, expands state workforce and small business development programs, provides incentives to hire post-9/11 combat veterans, promotes Connecticut’s economic and cultural assets, and seeks to reward businesses that are willing to relocate jobs from overseas back to Connecticut. Today’s passage comes as Connecticut is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in three years.
“This Jobs Bill sends a powerful message that we are focused on helping small businesses thrive and hire more workers,” Sen. Meyer said. “The best way to bolster our state’s economy is to strengthen communities by ensuring that people who live in our communities have good jobs and that our local businesses are prosperous. I have recently visited businesses across my district, including Honeywell, Munger Construction and Engineering Specialties, and have seen encouraging signs of growth. I am confident this Jobs Bill well help even more local businesses expand and hire workers.”
One of the hallmarks of the prior October Jobs Bill was the Small Business Express program, which set aside $100 million in state loans and grants over two years for small manufacturers, especially those in precision manufacturing, business services, green and sustainable technology, and bioscience and information technology.
The new Jobs Bill:
- Expands the existing Small Business Express Program to an estimated 3,600 additional state businesses. Under current law, a business qualifies for Express loans and grants if it employs 50 or fewer people; Senate Bill 1 raises that employee ceiling to 100 employees.
- Establishes the Unemployed Armed Forces Member STEP-UP (Subsidized Training and Employment Program) with grants to subsidize a businesses’ cost of hiring unemployed veterans during their first 180 days (about six months) on the job. The bill authorizes $10 million in bonds for the program, with $5 million available upon passage and the balance available in Fiscal Year 2014.
- Creates “Connecticut Made” and “Connecticut Treasures” programs to promote products made in Connecticut and promote the state’s cultural, educational and historic attractions. Part of the bill provides for the design planning, and implementation of a multiyear, state-wide marketing and advertising plan that includes television and radio advertisements showcasing Connecticut-made products and the advantages they offer.
“As part of the campaign to promote historic destinations in the state, Rep. Pat Widlitz and I last week celebrated the 373rd year of the Henry Whitfield House in Guilford,” Sen. Meyer said.
- Seeks to relocate overseas jobs to Connecticut by allowing the state Department of Economic and Community Development to give a preference under the “First Five Plus” program to companies that will relocate jobs from overseas to Connecticut; assistance includes loans, tax incentives and other forms of economic development that create jobs and invest capital within a certain timeframe.
Each of these measures builds on the momentum created last October when the legislature passed Public Act 11-1, An Act Promoting Economic Growth and Job Creation in the State.