TD Bank has announced that Mark Crandall, the bank’s regional president for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, will lead the bank’s local leadership team in Connecticut as well. TD Bank has 79 Nutmeg State branches, and Crandall will head their retail, consumer, commercial lending and government banking operations. A 30-year veteran of the banking industry, Crandall joined TD Bank in 1998. A Massachusetts resident, he serves on the board of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, on Advisory Council of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and is a director of the Massachusetts Bankers Association.
Nicholas (Niko) Yanouzas, CPA has been promoted to partner at the accounting firm of Whittlesey & Hadley, PC. Yanouzas has more than 20 years in public accounting including Big Four firm experience. He is a licensed CPA and a member of the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants (CSCPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). He holds a BS in accounting from the University of Connecticut.
Todd Cassese, MD has joined the faculty of the Frank H. Netter, MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. He will oversee clinical skills taught to first- and second-year medical students, and is creating a curriculum that enables students to see patients all four years of med school. Previously Cassese was assistant professor of medicine at Yale University. He completed his residency at the University of California/San Francisco, holds a medical degree from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and a BS in biology from Harvard College.
Environmental engineer Paul Jobmann has been named a senior associate at the environmental engineering firm of Legette, Brashears & Graham in its Shelton office. Jobmann is a licensed environmental professional and registered professional engineer in the state of Connecticut. He holds a master’s in environmental engineering science and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and environmental studies from the State University of New York/Buffalo.
First Niagara Bank has named Robert Dellatorre of Bethany senior relationship manager in its New England Middle Market Banking Group. He will manage the bank’s relationships with middle market companies located in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Dellatorre worked for JPMorgan Chase Bank since 1991, most recently as vice president of that firm’s Middle Market Banking Group.
Bethany marketing communications firm Mason Inc. has hired Danielle Geer of Stratford as a media planner. She will be responsible for media planning for Mason clients including Yale-New Haven Hospital, Hospital for Special Care and Acadia Insurance. Geer previously worked as a media planner for Touch Point Integrated Communications in Darien.
William B. Meyer, a logistics services business in Stratford, has named Thomas Holden to the company’s business development team. He will offer clients transportation and integrated warehousing and inventory control that provides accountability throughout the distribution lifecycle. For four years previously Holden was operations manager for Meyer logistics.
New Haven-based Start Community Bank has hired Margery E. Petterson of Guilford as vice president and commercial loan officer. Petterson, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a commercial lender, previously worked at U.S. Trust/Bank of America. Start Bank also has hired Kristin K. Clemens as a credit analyst. With 21 years of banking experience, Clemens was previously a credit analyst at Darien Rowayton Bank.
Deborah Wheelahan has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer at Naugatuck Savings Bank. Wheelahan began working for the bank in 1978, and has held positions from teller to executive vice president. She holds an executive master of business administration degree from Fairfield University and is a graduate of Americas Bankers Association’s National School of Banking. She is also a director of the United Way of Naugatuck & Beacon Falls and the Naugatuck Rotary Club.
Joe Cafasso Jr. has joined Wareck D’Ostilio Rea Estate as a Realtor and IT manager. The Southern Connecticut State University alumnus has been a Realtor since 2004, when he joined William Orange Realty (which later became Coldwell Banker). Before that he worked in the IT departments at Sacred Heart University and the Yale Law School.
Naugatuck Savings Bank has named Lisa Behling branch manager of its Southington and Woodbury offices. Behling has 16 years of experience in banking, most recently as vice president and branch manager of Webster Bank in Southbury. An alumna of New England College, Behling is a member of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce and Southbury Business Association.
Quinnipiac University has named Terri Johnson director of student affairs. Johnson will assist the vice president of academic and student affairs, with whom she will plan and execute major initiatives and departmental communications. The Lehigh University alumna was previously a clinical therapist, and taught seminar classes at Quinnipiac.
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), a statewide education-reform advocacy group, has named Rae Ann Knopf its first executive director. Knopf is currently deputy commissioner of education transformation and innovation for the Vermont Department of Education.
The law firm of Carter Mario Injury Lawyers has hired attorneys Jerry McEnery, Robert Messey, MD/JD, and Gayle Sullivan. The trio will comprise the firm’s expanded Complex Litigation and Medical Malpractice Unit. Also joining the firm are Attorney’s Pamela Cameron and Joseph Rossetti, both of whom formerly worked with McEnery, Messey and Sullivan at their previous practice.
Weinstein & Anastasio, PC has promoted Kevin F. LaChapelle of Beacon Falls to partner. A 1996 graduate of the University of Connecticut, LaChapelle joined the Woodbridge accounting firm in 1999 and began focusing his practice concentration in financial reporting, audits and review/compilation of financial statements in the construction, manufacturing, and service industries. He is a member of the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Associated General Contractors of Connecticut and the Connecticut Construction Industries Association.
Thomas S. Santa, president and CEO of Santa Energy Corp. in Bridgeport, has been elected chairman of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the state’s largest business group. He succeeds Ramona Carlow, AT&T's vice president of public policy & strategy. Donald R. Droppo Jr., president and CEO of Curtis Packaging, and James P. Torgerson, president and CEO of UIL Holdings Corp., were elected as vice-chairs.
New members of CBIA's board of directors, who serve four-year terms, include:
• Eric D. Albert, president, Albert Bros., Waterbury
• Kevin J. Cunningham, president, Bank of America/Connecticut, Hartford
• Mary Kay Fenton, senior vice president and CFO, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, New Haven
• Charles V. Firlotte, president and CEO, Aquarion Water Co., Bridgeport
• Mary P. Fitzgerald, president, Acme Wire Products Co., Mystic
• Joe Singh, executive vice president, PCC Technology LLC, Bloomfield
• Craig L. Sylvester, president, Reid & Riege, PC, Hartford
• Martha R. Temple, New England region president, Aetna, Hartford
• Jeffrey J. Tengel, senior executive vice president, commercial banking, People's United Bank, Bridgeport
• Chris Ulbrich, chief operating officer, Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, North Haven
• Richard H. Wheeler, president, Capewell Components Co. LLC, South Windsor.
Webster Bank has promoted Anthony Denniston from vice president of staffing to senior vice president, employee relations. Before joining Webster five years ago Denniston was director of employee relations and training at Mohegan Sun. He holds a bachelor’s from the University of New Haven and an MBA from Albertus Magnus College.
Webster has also promoted Jennifer Salera Hoynes of Stratford to senior vice president, brand management. A four-year Webster employee, the University of Virginia grad played a significant role in developing the bank’s “Type W Personality” campaign and sports marketing initiatives.
The board of directors of Fairfield-based Competitive Technologies Inc. has elected Rustin R. Howard chairman, effective immediately. He replaces William Reali, who resigned as chairman but remains a director. Howard is chairman of DeepGulf Inc. of Pensacola, Fla.
The New Haven law firm of Wiggin and Dana has promoted David B. Schaffer, a member of the firm’s Corporate Practice Department, to partner. Schaffer represents clients in corporate and commercial matters including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, joint ventures and other strategic transactions, private equity and venture capital financings, entity formation and restructuring, securities law compliance and corporate governance. He earned a JD and MBA from Pepperdine University, and a BA from San Diego State University.
TD Bank has named Deborah J. Dannenbaum vice president, commercial loan officer in the bank’s Commercial Real Estate Group in Wilton. She is responsible for generating new commercial real estate loans for business clients in Fairfield and Westchester (N.Y.) counties. Dannenbaum previously was a vice president at Wells Fargo in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has named Mark Ojakian chief of staff in the governor’s office, effective January 9. Most recently deputy secretary of the Office of Policy & Management, Ojakian replaces departing Chief of Staff Tim Bannon. Before joining the administration last year, Ojakian was deputy comptroller under now-Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for 16 years when she headed that office.
The law firm of Cohen and Wolf, PC has named Rachel A. Pencu, Gary Phelan and Barbara M. Schellenberg principals of the firm. Pencu in the firm’s Family Law and Litigation Groups. She also serves as a Special Master, appointed by the Superior Court, to mediate divorce disputes in the judicial district of Bridgeport. Phelan is a member of the firm’s Employment & Labor and Litigation Groups. He represents employees and employers in age and disability discrimination, wrongful termination, employment contracts and severance negotiations. Schellenberg practices in the firm's Appellate, Land Use & Zoning, and Litigation Groups, representing clients in matters including administrative appeals, securities law, family law, probate law, commercial and contract law, foreclosures and other real property disputes.
The Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) has named New Havener Rachel Gretencord director of real estate. She will be responsible for managing CERC SiteFinder, Connecticut’s local source for commercial real estate and demographic data to help growing businesses analyze a potential investment. She also will conduct business development activities to promote Connecticut as a top business location, and act as a liaison between economic development professionals, corporate real estate executives, site selectors, commercial brokers and businesses. Gretencord holds a MA in international relations from Yale and a BA in economics from Valparaiso University.
DeStefano charts economic agenda for his tenth term
Last month John DeStefano Jr. was elected to his tenth consecutive term as New Haven’s mayor after fending off an energetic challenge from independent Jeffrey Kerekes. BNH Publisher Mitchell Young interviewed Hizzoner about his economic-development agenda for the next two years.
Looking to 2012, what is the biggest challenge for the city going forward?
The persistent national recession and how it affects the incomes of families in the city.
Do you see any strategies that the city can use?
The strategy is to not rely on what may happen on the national economy. Our challenges and our opportunities rely on a core of biosciences as an economic base and by institutional employers taken together to generate a strong service economy. That’s been reflected in employment and jobs in the city and in terms of an incredibly high occupancy rate in rental housing in the city right now. And low commercial [vacancy] rates. Challenges going forward are going to relate to how do we better connect New Haven residents to these jobs.
New Haven had a far different profile in 1993 when you first entered office as mayor. Why were interested in running for a tenth term, and what do you see as your biggest piece of unfinished business?
School reform. The goal for school reform, academic achievement and college-going are related to our economic development and wealth creation.
The key element is talent, and the most powerful feature of that is the  agreement with the AFT [American Federation of Teachers] and the School Administrators Association which implemented rigorous evaluation for our teachers and administrators. The agreement includes test scores in teacher evaluations. This has resulted in eliminating tenured teachers from the school district this year. And also resulted in a lot of poor teachers becoming good teachers and a lot of good teachers becoming great teachers.
Another feature of the contract has been incredible flexibility on work rules and hours and also a ‘portfolio’ approach to schools, which accompanies strong accountability measures. All schools are ranked in a very transparent fashion, by both absolute performance and relative performance. We’ve done turnaround schools where entire school staffs have had to reapply for their jobs and we’ve had the introduction of two contract operators into the district.
In many districts that have tried to implement some of these tactics, it has been very difficult politically. What made it easier in New Haven?
I think you had local union leadership that was committed to this. They had a strong and trusting relationship with the superintendent of schools [Reginald R. Mayo] who they knew well. The approach was to work together. The key elements of collaboration, a portfolio approach and a strong college-going initiative in New Haven Promise [a Yale-funded college-tuition program]. We’re in Year 2. We showed progress in Year 1 and we’ll see it in Year 2. My concern, and when you ask me why I was interested in running again, it is to institutionalize the culture in a way that in Years 5, 6, 7 and 8 we’re still making the kinds of gains that our kids deserve.
There is great emphasis on getting a college degree, but college isn’t for everyone. We see in a company like Chabaso Bakery in New Haven a large number of ‘working people’ who are making personal progress. How do we support these other routes to personal success?
First of all, every student needs to know that if they do have a college degree, they’ll make more [money], they’re likely to live longer and they are going to have more choices in their lives and that those successes will enrich the whole community. That said, not everyone will go to college. But we have to create the kind of jobs that can be held by [workers in] service and the trades, and that is by promoting the core economic base in biosciences.
When you see low vacancy rates, that’s a good thing; when you see population growth for the first time in decades that’s a good thing. The demand for plumbers, for breadmakers, for lawyers and other service-sector jobs will grow.
The second thing we can do is to create a direct link to employers. You see that with the building trades initiative the city has undertaken, where we train hundreds of people to go into the building trades. We have the largest number of unionized construction workers in the state. There’s a reason: We planned it, trained for it — we created a pipeline. The certification programs at Gateway Community College provide [in some cases] less focus on a degree but on the ability to enable people to obtain work. We’re working on a collaboration with Gateway and the school district for a unified high school/college program in trades, where some college-level work in the trades is appropriate.
In an interview after the election you took personal responsibility for ‘dropping the ball’ on community policing, now you have a new chief in Dean Esserman and a revised strategy for community policing. But how effective can a policing strategy really be in dealing with demographics and more inmates being returned to the city.
I do accept responsibility for the fact that five years ago we had five homicides in the city [for 2006], a record modern low, and we have 31 today. That is heartbreaking. It is unacceptable and as a community including the mayor we all need to take ownership to resolve that.
At the end of the day this is a small community of offenders who are committing these gun crimes on each other. We’ve lost the ability to engage them both aggressively and by conveying the message this is not acceptable behavior. I think we’ve also lost some part of our relationship with the community, which is perhaps not a direct victim, but they’re victims in that their children and they are exposed to this violence. We haven’t done a sufficient amount to engage [the community] to make sure they feel they can interact with us.
New Haven does have a large reentry population of previous criminal offenders. Isn’t that the core issue?
At any given time there are [in the city] about 5,000 people on probation or some form of parole. That is not every person with a felony conviction. The demographics of where this crime is occurring is mid- to late 20s. It’s ex-felons and there are some organized groups — gangs or whatever. Most of these, while they may be involved with drugs, tend to involve respect issues or boy-girl issues.
Outside of New Haven and Hartford, we haven’t heard much discussion about this. The talk has been jobs and the economy. Has that emphasis taken up all the oxygen that might otherwise go to address issues such as crime and public safety? Are you getting the resources you need from the state, for example?
The city has had the largest grand list growth in percentage terms in the state in the last three years: $6 million in new revenue generated by economic development. The state budget was more than fair to New Haven in an environment where they were having to raise taxes and make cuts. If you look at the arbitration award for [school] custodians that came out earlier this week, it was largely the agreement that was reached with leadership of the union and rejected by membership. It was unprecedented; we go from 25 job descriptions to four. We are enabled now to bring in a substantial amount of contracted workforce to the schools. It resets our whole pension-fund model, eliminates COLAs [cost-of-living adjustments]; it eliminates retiree dependent health benefits. This contract will save us $4 million next year over what we’re spending now. That arbitration award wouldn’t have happened, but the union took significant leadership in helping shape it.
In a host of areas we’re taking incredible strides in what are very difficult times for a lot of families. I don’t think you can find any city in the state that can match our repertoire of education reform, economic growth and resetting of employer-employee relationships.
We see very little support in the business community for a lot of the state economic-development programs. What do you hear from business and community leaders?
I think the governor has taken dramatic steps forward from the positions of his two predecessors. Two examples; the reorganization of DEP and Energy to DEEP [the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and a commissioner, Dan Esty, who is well known to us in New Haven. He has demonstrated already a commitment to quicker and more reasonable environmental rules. In Jim Redeker you have a transportation commissioner who deeply understands promoting along transit corridors and the promotion of [public] transit over just highways. I think DECD is organizing itself, hopefully to move away from doing one-offs on projects to clear program guidelines on how they will support clusters and do so on a consistent and not one-at-a-time basis.
It sounds like you are very positive toward the start of this administration?
Dan Malloy is the fifth governor I’ve had the chance to work with. I worked with Bill O’Neill when I was [city] development administrator in the 1980s.
It has been a long time since we’ve had this kind of understanding, of ‘Let’s not make it complicated; let’s recognize we can’t invest everywhere’ and to invest in areas that will leverage the most amount of growth and that [play] to Connecticut’s advantages.
Downtown New Haven has been a restaurant destination for some time, but now it appears to becoming a retail destination, punctuated by the opening of the Apple store and the Elm City Market. What has that taught you about where New Haven is?
It’s occurring because of [population] density. When I became mayor there was not a supermarket on lower Whalley let alone downtown. A lot more people live in downtown New Haven now. I think that has a lot to do with promoting the institutional growth at the [Yale] Med[ical] School, and the hospital and the commercial development off of that. It’s related to growing transit, Shore Line East. It began 15 years ago, but it didn’t exist on lower State Street. It is interesting that 360 State Street that has the supermarket is right across the street from a train station. It is also interesting that a building that got its certificate of occupancy in late August 2010 is virtually fully leased, without any erosion of occupancy of other rentals downtown. I think the retail is the result of efforts to successfully promote density in growth in our core job base and our core employers and to integrate mixed-use development.
If you look at the Front Street project in Hartford, opposite the convention center, they built a great project but the space remains empty two years later. We had our own experience with that in Ninth Square, which took a decade and a half to fill up, in large part due to insufficient demand. [Gateway] community college at the end of Church Street will be important for retail at that end of town and the development of 100 College Street. The [former Veterans Memorial] Coliseum site is critical for retail development as well.
You mentioned 360 State Street. There is a conflict with developer Bruce Becker over the property’s tax assessment. Are you concerned that this sends a bad signal to other potential developers?
I don’t determine [property] values; the assessor does. I’m concerned that value be fair. I just mailed 50,000 reval[uation] notices to city property owners. I’m not just concerned about 360 State; I’m concerned about every property owner’s value being fair. There are administrative and statutory remedies and 360 State has the opportunity to take advantage of them, and they are and it will be resolved. I don’t think it has any impact on any developers. Not one of the developers we deal with commercial or housing has mentioned that as a concern to us.
Where does the Coliseum site development and the other major nearby projects down stand?
I don’t have high expectations for that site near-term. Where I do have high expectations near-term is initiating demolition of Route 34 at the end of 2012. Hopefully by the end of the spring  bringing 100 College Street, a commercial building, to host for-profit life and bioscience companies. I hope to work out with the state the expansion of Union Station, parking and remerchandising of it. I would like to have a deal sometime in the first quarter of 2012 on the redevelopment of Church Street South to give decent housing to those people who live there and ultimately replace that with a much more dense housing and mixed-use development. I think the Coliseum [site] will be good, but we’ll see.
One other thing [that has a] huge development dynamic is Science Park. To look at Science Park compared to just five years ago, it is extraordinary how it has changed. I think you’re going to continue to see an aggressive buildout of that whole Winchester complex.
WTNH-TV has named Anne Craig to co-anchor the weekday Good Morning Connecticut. Previously a weekend morning anchor on the station, Craig will now be on air alongside the morning team of Chris Velardi, Gil Simmons and Teresa LaBarbera weekdays from 5-7 a.m. on WTNH and 7-8 a.m. on WCTX-TV. Craig joined WTNH as a reporter/anchor in September. She came to WTNH from WNYW-TV in New York, where she was an anchor/reporter. Before that she worked at a Fox station in Orlando, Fla. A graduate of Miami (O.) University, Craig continued her journalism studies at Stanford University.
William Raveis Mortgage has named Joshua Hollander vice president of sales & marketing, responsible for sales and marketing in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. A 17-year veteran of the financial services industry, he began his career as an investment-banking analyst for Morgan Stanley & Co., helped build a personal finance startup sold to Mellon Financial and most recently was general manager of Connecticut Home Mortgage. Hollander holds a BA in economics from Williams College.
James O’Brien of Trumbull has joined Start Community Bank as assistant vice president and retail banking manager in the bank’s Whalley Avenue location. O’Brien’s banking career spans more than 33 years, most recently with Webster Bank, where he was an assistant vice president and also worked Webster’s retail compliance department.
The New Haven Symphony Orchestra has named Elaine C. Carroll of West Haven executive director. She has worked in not-for-profit management for 18 years, including as general manager of the Stamford Symphony and business manager of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale Summer School of Music. She holds a master’s of performing arts administration from NYU and a BA in flute performance from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill.
The University of New Haven (UNH) College of Business has appointed of Professor Gil Fried the school’s new coordinator of internships and for-credit experiential education opportunities. Fried has been at UNH for 13 years, teaching primarily sport management and management-related classes, as well as helping to coordinate internships for undergraduate and graduate students.
Victoria Richards of North Haven has joined the faculty of the Frank H. Netter, MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University as an assistant professor of basic medical sciences. She will teach pharmacology to medical students when the charter class of the new school enrolls in 2013. She is also designing the curriculum. Richards comes to QU from the A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, where she was an assistant professor of pharmacology.
Sean K. McElligott has been named a partner at the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, which has offices in New Haven, Bridgeport, Danbury and Stamford. A five-year veteran of the firm, McElligott previous practiced law at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP in New York. He holds a BA from Trinity College and a JD from the Yale Law School.
John Logan Brady of Wallingford received the Quinnipiac University School of Business’ Emerging Leader Award at Quinnipiac’s Business Leader Hall of Fame event on November 3 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. This award recognizes business students who demonstrate excellence both in and out of the classroom, including leadership roles on campus and/or significant community service. In addition, the business school inducted David M. Darst, managing director and chief investment strategist at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and James W. McGlothlin, chairman & CEO of the United Company to its Business Leader Hall of Fame, which strives to recognize the best and brightest leaders who serve as inspirational figures for young people entering the world of business.
The Firefighters Federal Credit Union (FCU) of Waterbury has named Gregory Zeliff vice president of lending. Most recently he was assistant vice president and commercial loan officer with Thomaston Savings Bank
Stephen A. Toross, CPA has joined the Hartford accounting firm of Whittlesey & Hadley, PC as a partner in its tax department. He has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting with expertise across all facets of federal income tax laws and regulations surrounding corporations, partnerships and individuals. His areas of concentration include real estate and construction, debt and equity financing arrangements, transaction structuring, strategic business planning, and tax planning services for closely-held businesses and high-net-worth individuals.
The Bridgeport architectural and interior design firm Antinozzi Associates has hired Michael Losasso as project manager. He is a registered Architect, a LEED accredited design professional and an active member of AIA Connecticut. He holds a BA in architecture and an environmental science degree from Ball State University. Antinozzi also hired Lindsay Sacco as marketing coordinator and Ryan Buell as job captain.
New Haven’s normally mild-mannered chamber of commerce president gives a piece of his mind
Anthony P. Rescigno is president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, a 217-year old business group that represents 1,800 members in 15 municipalities throughout south-central Connecticut. Before assuming his current job in 2000, Rescigno was the Republican first selectman of his hometown of North Haven.
In a tough economy, how is chamber membership holding?
[New Haven’s economy is] in a very interesting place, with a very strong health-care sector, education sector. There are companies that are doing really well, but there are many companies that are hurting.
Clearly the smaller companies are reeling, because there are not a lot of places to cut back — their expenses are already low. The income side is not there and they are having a hard time weathering the storm. Our job is to [help] get them through it.
Helping find ways to save, money, maybe do some things differently. We have lots of businesses that are doing fairly well, too, and we have lots of companies that are in that center-point, saying, ‘Hey — we’ve survived,’ and are now looking to do more marketing and branding, where in the past they may have felt they didn’t have to do it.
Have you gotten any feedback about the jobs bills [H.B. 6801; see story this issue] or the other efforts of the Malloy administration and state government?
For the most part, the business community is giving the governor a little slack. They were clearly not happy with the tax increase, they’re not happy with some of the initiatives like the [mandated paid] sick leave bill and unionizing health-care workers. They’re clearly upset with those, but they understand also that the governor walked into a mess and they see him as someone who is working hard and trying to initiate some things. So they’re cutting him some slack and waiting to see what happens.
Do you think this is true of smaller companies, too?
They’re less tolerant; they don’t have time to be focused on it. They’re in a survival mode and they’re less understanding. There are more people, frankly, in an uncertain place because of the federal government and the lack of clarity on what their costs are going to be next year — whether it’s personal taxes or business taxes, health care costs. What businesses have done is they’ve re-calibrated. They’re doing more with less — using technology, using part-time people, contractors. Lots of companies are doing fairly well. But once again it’s not because their income is up; it’s because their expenses are down.
So is it fair to say no companies are really looking to add jobs at this point?
Yes. There are isolated cases of companies looking for people, but overall the majority are just holding back. The only way we’re going to see a robust employment situation is when both consumers and businesses feel confident that they know what there costs are going to be. In a lot of cases even if they know their costs are [rising] they can make decisions. But when they don’t know at all, it’s worse.
But New Haven’s economy overall isn’t doing as bad as some other Connecticut cities.
What I see is that we have this very strong health-care sector and a very strong education sector that includes the other universities, not just Yale. And lots of smaller companies that are feeding off of that — lawyers and accountants, insurance, printers. When you make the comparison we’re probably better off [than other markets], but it’s nothing to write home about.
You’re a lifelong Republican, though not of the intransigent vein. If Gov. Malloy asked you to sit down to take the temperature of the business community, what would be your message?
We would tell him he clearly has to keep taxes down. He would say, ‘I had to do what I had to do.’ What we would say is you have to make the business community feel like we’re in a competitive situation with [other states] so they want to do business here — and you have to be sincere about it. If they see a lot of waffling and hedging they’re not going to have the confidence that there is somebody thinking about business up at the Capitol — and that’s not just the governor but the legislators, too. I’ve told him and he said maybe one too many times, but they have to get these regulations under control and how long it takes [companies] to get a permit to do something.
Do you think they will?
We had Dan Esty, who’s the new commissioner of the Department of Energy & Environment Protection [DEEP] at a [late October] meeting here and we were extremely encouraged by what he’s doing. He’s already taken the handcuffs off his people in some cases to give permits. He claims it’s a top priority and he seems to get it. Frankly, unless he’s a terrific con artist he made a strong commitment.
How much damage did the governor do to his relationship with the business community over the taxes, sick leave and the union issues?
I don’t think you can say you’re a ‘business-friendly state’ and then do things like that. I think the unionizing health-care workers sounds like it may be challenged in court. As far as the sick leave, there are some that buy into this notion that it ‘only’ applies to companies with 50 employees or more. We point out to people that once you go down that slippery slope it will be 35 employees or more. I think it is a hard sell [to convince people that Connecticut is getting more business-friendly], but there is a yearning to believe that we’re going to do things a little bit differently.
Your view of him personally?
This governor is focused; he’s doing things. One of the things I do hear from business people is we may not agree with everything [Malloy does], but he is doing things. He’ll make the case to give him more time.
What do your members think of state government spending taxpayer dollars on large companies to relocate to or expand in Connecticut?
Although we’re a large chamber, 95 percent of the [member] businesses are smaller companies. What we’re hearing from them is this is not fair. What we’ve done is to say to the governor and to economic development, is we need a package for small business. We’re starting to see that. [Editor’s note: On November 2 the General Assembly passed a “jobs bill,” H.B. 6801, that included some loans and grant funds directed to small businesses.] They have to show that they understand that across Connecticut and the country, 95 percent of businesses are small businesses.
Isn’t that ‘support’ really just lip service from people in government? Isn’t their belief more that small companies just feed off large ones and aren’t wealth-creators in their own right?
Whenever I talk to a business group I say we need to support that person who wants to open up a beauty salon. That person can hire four people. I don’t think it’s lip service for me. I’d rather have 200 companies hire two people each than look for someone who is going to come in with 400 people. I don’t think that’s the way this [state] is going to grow. I am seeing a very positive feeling by the people that the governor is putting in place. I have my glass half-full.
You’re hosting the chamber’s annual Business Expo on November 16. What do you think will be the feeling in the room that day, how much anxiety do you think is out there about 2012?
That’s a tough question, but I think most people are feel pretty good about where they are. These are people who have jobs and run companies, they’re putting their best foot forward — they have to be optimistic. If I came into this office every day saying how terrible things are, that’s just not going to work. We have to be realistic and live within the parameters, but I think a lot of the people who will be at the Expo will be feeling good about the robust feeling they get when they come to that kind of event.
How do we get those large companies that may not be headquartered here to think about the local business environment more?
We do it every day of the week, and we succeed for the most part. We have companies that are not [headquartered] here but they [employ] local people that have to make businesses work. We get their attention by saying, ‘How can we help you?’ — whether it’s a bank president that reports to Charlotte, N.C. [e.g., Bank of America] or the AT&T [Connecticut] president, we need to work with those people. When First Niagara [Bank, headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y.] people came into town a year ago [after acquiring New Haven’s NewAlliance Bank], we embraced them. We don’t tell businesses what to do: ‘You bought this company, you thought it was a good decision, we support you and want to work with you.’ For the most part we get lots of cooperation, because in addition to [local managers] being genuinely decent individuals with a community mindset, they want to succeed.
Do you sense a growing anti-business attitude in the general population?
I think that business people understand that there are businesses that have pushed the envelope. But what I hear is that, especially in this whole banking issue, is that the government is equally culpable in pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to give [mortgage] loans [to borrowers who didn’t meet existing standards of creditworthiness]. But there is a general discontent about high salaries and executives.
What are you hearing about bank lending from both the banks and your member companies who want to borrow from them?
It is obviously a lot more difficult to get money than it was. The question is: What are you comparing it to? Most people are under the impression that banks are lending, but [borrowers] have to be in really good shape. What I’m hearing from banks is that they are spending enormous amounts of money to meet regulatory requirements the government has now placed on them.
How strong is demand for credit?
My sense is that the business people are getting itchy to do things. Most businesses are not interested in being in a retrenching mode or stabilizing mode. They want to grow — that is the instinct of business. It’s been a long time now that they’ve been holding back.
What do you hear from the health-care companies about the market and health-care reform?
I think they’re in a tailspin. If [Obamacare is implemented] by 2014 they will be restricted as to how much they can spend on administrative costs, and they’ve got tons of anxiety about this. Businesses in general have no confidence in this. It’s almost like 100 percent [believe] that this isn’t going to be a money-saver.
Put on your old GOP hat for a minute. Where do you see the Republican Party in Connecticut going, and will we ever return to being a two-party state?
I think of it as a one-party state, and I don’t think there is a lot of hope of changing. This is a very liberal state. We’re going to elect liberal politicians and there is not a lot of hope, frankly, and I am a very conservative person. The unions have lots of control of this state. Look at what that legislature looks like. A lot of these folks believe that business [owners] are just a lot of fat cats and that companies can afford to give employees everything employees need. Once again: 95 percent of the businesses in this state have 50 employees or less, and they are struggling to stay alive, to make payroll, to live within the regulatory environment.
What about GOP prospects in upcoming congressional races and statewide elections?
A lot is going to depend on the individual and the mood of the country. I’m optimistic in that regard, and that we pick up some gains on the state level. I’m hoping that the folks that are up there [in Hartford] who are more liberal wind up being reasonable. Frankly, we are seeing people who are being more reasonable and understanding there are two sides. Our job is to convince the folks in control that you cannot be for employees and against employers. You have to be for employers as well.
Lauren Meris Filiberto has joined the New Haven law firm of Murtha Cullina, LLP as an associate in the firm's Litigation Department. Filiberto represents clients in the area of immigration law, including filing employment and family based visa and green card petitions and applications for naturalization. Filiberto earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1999, and her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2005. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, Fairfield County Bar Association, and the American Immigration Law Association.
The New Haven law firm Wiggin & Dana appointed partner Patti Melick to the firm’s Executive Committee for a four-year term. Melick has been with Wiggin and Dana since 1995. She is also a member of the firm’s Pro Bono, Charitable Contributions and Associate Professional Development Committees. Her practice is focused primarily on companies in the life sciences industry, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical, diagnostic and medical device companies. She has more than 20 years' experience in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and complex strategic alliances, licensing and global partnering transactions. Melick was graduated summa cum laude from Lehigh University, Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
Quinnipiac University has appointed Andrea Hogan director of global education. She will be responsible for oversight of the university’s study abroad programs and services for international students. A New Haven resident, Hogan previously was director of international services at the University of New Haven. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and psychology from the University of Connecticut and earned a master’s degree in multicultural education from Southern Connecticut State University.
The Quinnipiac University School of Law has named Denée Page of Naugatuck assistant director of admissions. She will assist the law school in attracting and enrolling a diverse class, represent the school at recruiting fairs across the country; manage the Student Ambassadors program; oversee the school’s Web and social media content; and assist in the production of view books and other publications. Page holds a BA in English from Indiana (Pa.) University and a JD from Roger Williams School of Law, where she worked as an admissions recruiter before coming to Quinnipiac.
An innovator in the field of sustainable food systems, Mark Bomford has been appointed the director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, a comprehensive program that has helped spearhead a national movement across college campuses to change the way people eat and think about food. Bomford comes to Yale from the University of British Columbia (UBC) to guide Yale’s food consciousness-raising program into its second decade. At UBC, Bomford founded and managed the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, a far-reaching and multi-faceted organization that includes a 60-acre “learning and research” farm — the last working farm in the city of Vancouver — and 150 academic and community programs linking people to their source of food and, through food, to one another. Bomford earned a B.Sc. at UBC in agroecology, a degree that combines the sciences of agriculture and ecology within a socioeconomic context.
Bob Slate has joined Operation Fuel as its small business advocate. His responsibilities include coordinating Operation Fuel’s pilot program for small companies, which will provide energy grants and energy conservation training to state-certified women- and minority-owned businesses. Slate also is an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford and the University of Connecticut. Previously he was a communications associate at Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. A resident of West Hartford, Slate is a graduate of Harvard University.
Grace Peiffer of Fairfield has been appointed director of employer relations in the School of Business at Quinnipiac University. In that role she will establish links and networks to employers and build relationships to enable undergraduate and graduate students to expend career opportunities through internships and full-time employment. Peiffer will also manage the School of Business mentorship program and be a liaison for the academic clubs and collaborate with professional organizations to create outreach for students. Peiffer was born and raised in Poland and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Connecticut State University with a concentration in management information systems.
State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame October 25 at a ceremony at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. She joins 96 previous inductees including Gov. Ella T. Grasso and Katharine Hepburn. The first African-American woman elected to serve as a state treasurer in the U.S. and the first to be elected to statewide office in Connecticut, Nappier is Connecticut’s chief elected financial officer, overseeing approximately $52 billion in state funds.
Richard Strompf, who joined Post University in 2006 as a professor in the Master of Human Services degree program, has been promoted to dean of the newly renamed John P. Burke School of Public Service at the Waterbury university. Strompf received his master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Florida Tech as well as an undergraduate degree in psychology from Geneseo State University (SUNY) in Geneseo, N.Y.