But businesses see some positive economic signs




HARTFORD — Connecticut’s economic recovery remains sluggish according to a new survey, as national and global issues continue to impact productivity and sales forecasts.


The Connecticut Business & Industry’s (CBIA) third quarter 2011 economic survey found that while businesses remain cautious, some positive trends emerged.


Nevertheless, “This has been a rough year,” acknowledges CBIA economist Peter Gioia, “Companies are watching what’s happening in Washington and in Europe and they are concerned about the long road ahead.”


After seeing a steep drop in economic expectations in the second quarter of 2011, CBIA’s latest quarterly survey showed a slight increase in positive expectations for future quarters.


Slightly under half (48 percent) of respondents felt the state economy would remain stable or improve, compared with just 27 percent in the second quarter. Just nine percent forecast a significant worsening, down from 19 percent the previous quarter.


Confidence in the national economy remains flat, with ten percent of respondents expecting some improvement (roughly unchanged from last quarter) and 43 percent say it would remain stable (41 percent).


However, 47 percent expect the national situation to worsen, flat with the second quarter, while reflecting a more pessimistic mood than the third quarter of 2010, when 28 percent expected a decline and 24 percent foresaw improvement.


As for industry outlook, 23 percent of those surveyed expected that conditions would improve within their own sector, compared with 19 percent in the second quarter.


Gioia said the survey was completed prior to the October special session of the General Assembly and passage of the so-called jobs bill.


“Any sense of optimism in the survey results could be linked to expectations about the pending special session,” Gioia said. “And the jobs bill featured a number of important initiatives and programs which now could have a big impact on the state’s economy.”


Gioia also noted that while the state’s October jobs report showed a second consecutive month of job growth, the state’s Department of Labor believed many of those jobs were temporary, attributing them to restoration efforts following tropical Storm Irene.


“While there is good news in the report of additional jobs being created in October, it should be remembered that for year-over-year, we’ve only added 10,100 jobs in total,” Gioia said.  “We still have an awful long way to go to fully erase the jobs losses from the recession.”


Third-quarter economic survey key performance indicators:


• 35 percent expected increased production and sales for the next quarter, consistent with second quarter findings.


• The percentage of respondents expecting increased productivity fell seven percent  to 29 percent in the third quarter.


• 17 percent expected productivity to decrease in future quarters, up from 11 percent in the previous quarter.


CBIA’s third quarter 2011 economic survey was emailed to 2,000 Connecticut companies in September. A total of 235 executives responded, for a 12-percent response rate and a margin of error of +/-6.2 percent.


 WATERBURY — The federal government is selling its stakes in Webster Financial Corp. in Waterbury, parent company of Webster Bank, as well as Georgia's SunTrust Banks Inc. The stock was obtained as part of a federal bailout of the lenders at the height of the financial meltdown in 2008.

The U.S. Treasury Department says it plans a Dutch auction public officer of securities issued by both financial institutions that give holders the right to buy a certain number of shares at a set price.

Webster issued its warrants in return for $400 million in capital from the Treasury as part of the capital purchase program, and its sister rescue program the troubled asset repurchase program (TARP).

Atlanta-based SunTrust got $350 million.

Both have since repaid those monies.

 NEW HAVEN — First Niagara Financial Group, which endured a PR drubbing over its acquisition of New Haven’s NewAlliance Bank, will pony up $100,000 for a marquee sponsorship of the 16th annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which will take place June 11-25 at multiple sites throughout the Elm City. This year’s festival theme is “Across Border, Beyond Time.” The Buffalo, N.Y. bank’s financial commitment helps to ensure that the opening night performance by the Silk Road Ensemble, founded and led by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be a free public event on the New Haven Green, instead of a ticketed event staged in a much smaller venue.

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor has made available a $335,400 National Emergency Grant to assist about 100 workers affected by layoffs at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville last September. Awarded to the state’s Department of Labor, the grant will be operated by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board. It will provide workers assistance with resume writing and interviewing skills, vocational assessments and training for jobs in high-growth sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, “green” energy and health care.

CT Jeff.Hubbard 2017We talked to Market President Jeff Hubbard at KeyBank to get a handle on how Connecticut’s economy is doing and how the bank competes in a competitive market.

Hubbard is President and Commercial Sales Leader for KeyBank’s Connecticut and Western Massachusetts market. He leads the bank’s regional economic and community development efforts, and oversees the sales effort for delivering the lending and financial services offered to commercial clients.

Hubbard has been a long- term Connecticut banker. Prior to the acquisition of First Niagara Bank by KeyBank in 2016, Hubbard served as New England Regional President for First Niagara. He has had executive positions at TD Bank, Bank of America, Webster, Fleet and Merrill Lynch in Connecticut.