A renewed emphasis on Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure could bring thousands of jobs to the state over the next five years, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
While announcing last month “an ambitious five-year plan” that includes massive improvements to the state’s transportation systems, Malloy said jobs would be among the plan’s many benefits.
“These projects will facilitate commerce, stimulate economic development, improve the daily commutes of countless residents and create thousands of immediate construction jobs,” Malloy said in a release.
Malloy has proposed a state transportation budget allotment of approximately $1.8 billion to fund the transportation improvement effort, delineated in the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Capital Infrastructure Program for 2014-18, its most recent capital plan update. The sweeping plan lists improvements to the state’s highways and bridges; bus and railway fleet enhancements and facility maintenance and upgrades; and maritime port improvements.
Malloy made his announcement at the site of one of the planned projects, widening a section of I-84 in Waterbury. Among those in attendance were a number of lawmakers and business leaders, including John R. Rathgeber, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. CBIA has announced its own initiative to bolster Connecticut’s standing throughout the nation as a major business attraction by the year 2017 (see story this issue). Improving the transportation system is a major component of that effort.
“A modern and efficient transportation infrastructure has long been cited as one of the key components of a competitive business climate,” said Rathgeber in the release. “As Connecticut strives to be one of the best states to do business, these investments are critical to accessing regional, national and global markets.”
Others with a vested interest in the transportation project’s job-creation aspect also went on record in support of it.
“As the investments that already have been made by Governor Malloy come online, people are returning to work and this is the time to step up the momentum and take the construction industry’s ability to drive jobs and economic activity to scale,” stated Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. “These projects not only provide local jobs, but once the improvements are in place, all of the benefits go to Connecticut residents. These much-needed transportation improvements provide opportunities, change lives, and build stronger communities.”
The project will result in “a positive flow of goods, services and job creation,” said David Roche, president of the Connecticut State Building Trades. “Our workers look forward to doing their part to upgrading and rebuilding our highways, roads and bridges for a better Connecticut.”
FAIRFIELD — Several business-minded undergraduates at Fairfield University had the chance to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas and compete for cash to help develop them during the university’s Business Plan Competition. Held in April, the event resulted in a total of $20,000 being distributed the winning teams. Students, who worked with alumni mentors, had the choice of competing in one of two tracks, venture or social. Taking home the top prize of $7,000 in the venture track were seniors Jennifer Le, Gina Biondi and Jessica Mendes, whose “VentureOut” app facilitates networking meet-ups for young professionals. The social-track top prize, which carried a cash award of $5,000, went to Robert Garrone, Ralph Belfiore, Bernardo Navarro, Stephanie Sutherby and Michael Raymond. The team impressed the judges with its BoneSmart device, a wearable, noninvasive medical tool designed to measure blood flow and bone density. “These student teams showed that entrepreneurism and innovation is alive and well at Fairfield,” said Donald E. Gibson, dean of the university’s Dolan School of Business. “Our quest is to develop these ideas into viable businesses.” The students will receive developmental guidance through the Fairfield University Accelerator & Mentoring Enterprise, the school’s business incubator located in downtown Fairfield, Gibson said.
Of all the states in the nation, Connecticut was among those having the smallest increase in the number of jobs last month, according to Intuit’s April Small Business Indexes. The monthly report ranked Connecticut seventh-worst for job growth, with 0.06-percent change over the previous month. By comparison, the state at the top of the report’s list for job growth, Virginia, increased its number of positions by 0.3 percent between March 24 and April 23. States ranking below Connecticut are Tennessee, Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The Intuit Small Business Indexes is a series of monthly reports that provides insight into trends centering on employment and revenue for small (fewer than 20 employees) U.S. businesses. Information is garnered from 225,000 Intuit Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll small-business customers. Among other findings for the April report are that small business employment grew by 0.12 percent last month; “professional and technical services” was the only sector to see a revenue increase (0.07 percent) on a per-business basis in March; and the average monthly pay of small business hourly employees in April was $2,741, a $2 increase over March.
STAMFORD — Students and others considering a career in medicine might want to sit in on a series of free public lectures that present basic information about a variety of medical specialties. The talks, collectively referred to as the Mini Medical School program, are being presented by Stamford Hospital and take place in its Tully Health Center Brace Auditorium, Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. through May. The center is located at 32 Strawberry Hill Court. Structured in a similar way to medical school lectures, the presentations will be given by board-certified physicians. Upcoming talks will center on blood disorders and cancer (May 14), gynecology (May 21) and ear, nose and throat conditions (May 28). “The Mini Medical School program offers a unique learning opportunity, whether someone comes to one lecture or all six,” said program Director Henry Yoon in a release. “It is an excellent way for our physicians to connect with the community and offer a dynamic introduction to the world of medicine and health.” Seating is limited, and registration is required. To register or learn more, call 877-233-9355.
NORWALK – A two-percent March rise in job postings at FairfiledCountyJobs.com left a top administrator of the online employment service unimpressed. Despite the upward blip over the previous month, David Lewis, CEO of parent company AllCountyJobs.com, does not predict an upward trend. “The March numbers continue to show a trend of unremarkable activity in the area’s job market,” Lewis stated in a release. “With Q1 2014 finishing out with a modest four-percent increase in job posting activity, the outlook for the second quarter is similarly flat. Any significant movements upward are not clearly seen on the horizon.” Jobs posted most frequently on FairfieldCountyJobs.com included positions in administration, sales and customer service. Financial services, nonprofit and legal industries attracted the highest volume of postings, and the most popular markets in March were Stamford, Norwalk and Westport.
WETHERSFIELD — Employment stagnation attributed to the harsh winter weather seems to have experienced a seasonal thaw, with the state adding 4,900 non-farm positions in March, according to preliminary statistics from the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. That’s a 0.3-percent increase in jobs over February. The unemployment rate for March remained at seven percent, the same as the previous month. “March showed some solid signs of a return to previous job growth trends,” said Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, in a release. “These include the third month in a row of an expanding labor force and employment/population ratio, growing manufacturing employment, and positive movements in private-sector hours and earnings Recovery trend employment growth appears to be returning following the volatile winter.” Among sectors reporting the greatest job gains for the month of March are leisure and hospitality (2,300 added positions) and transportation and public utilities (2,000 positions). Two sectors reported net job losses for March. The professional and business services sector lost 900 positions, and construction ended the month with 700 fewer jobs. DOL estimates that the state has recovered slightly more than half of the positions lost during the recessionary period from March 2008 to February 2010. Approximately 119,100 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs were lost during that time, the department reports. It asserts that since then a total of 65,000 positions, or 54.6 percent, have been regained.