July 23, 2018
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New Haven Today, But Tomorrow – Two Views

The streets of the City of New Haven are well packed with young people and even suburbanites for the first time in decades. Apartment rehabs and new complexes have sprung up across the Elm City. The numbers are real and big,…
July 19, 2018
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Non-Profit Water Company Makes “Venture” Investment In Indoor Farming…

MERIDEN, NEW HAVEN: The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) announced a $500,000 investment in Meriden-based Trifecta Ecosystems. The RWA said the investment will “bring innovative, sustainable farming…
July 20, 2018
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Road Show On Federal Funding of Tech - Coming To New Haven

NEW HAVEN: The SBIR Road Tour is coming to New Haven on Tuesday, August 21, to convey the "nondilutive technology funding opportunity" provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business…
July 23, 2018
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Connecticut Disses Eversource New Offer and Resubmits Original Merger to…

CLINTON: The Connecticut Water Service [Nasdaq: CTWS] is moving forward with their merger plans with its cross-country transaction with the San Jose Water Company [NYSE: SWJ] as its rejects Eversource’s [NYSE: EV] most…
June 20, 2018
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New Haven Biotech Inks $150 Million Cash Now - Deal

NEW HAVEN: Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd. [NYSE: BHVN] based in the city’s downtown has just shown the wisdom of its licensing and developing programs. Royalty Pharma a New York based bioscience investment firm…
June 20, 2018
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Report: Greater New Haven Real Estate Showing Some Big Moves

NEW HAVEN: A detailed real estate report by the real estate firm Colliers International shows that new developments in the recently ended 1st Quarter combined to produce a positive outcome for New Haven’s office market.…

People's Buying Farmington Bank

Jun 19, 2018
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BRIDGEPORT: People's United Financial, Inc. [NASDAQ:PBCT], the holding company for People's United Bank, N.A., is acquiring…

Connecticut Water To Move Forward With Cross Country Merger

Jun 19, 2018
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CLINTON: Connecticut Water Service, Inc. [NASDAQ: CTWS] has rejected Eversource’s [NYSE: EV] offer and said it has received…

Eversource Not Ready To Lay Down On Connecticut Water Takeover Proposal

Jun 20, 2018
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HARTFORD: In spite of the announcement by Connecticut Water Services [Nasdaq: CTWS] that it is going ahead with its merger…

Alexion Hopes To Leverage “Complement” Experience Makes VC Style Investment In Start Up Biotech

Jun 19, 2018
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By Mitchell Young NEW HAVEN, AMSTERDAM: Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. [NYSE: ALXN] has taken another, albeit small step to…

Water War Words Coming To A Boil

Jun 06, 2018
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By Mitchell Young CLINTON: The water war over the purchase of Connecticut Water Service [Nasdaq: CTWS] is heating up and the…

CBIA and Manufacturing Consultant CONNSTEP – Forge Partnership

Jun 07, 2018
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HARTFORD: The Connecticut Business & Industry Association and CONNSTEP, a non-profit business consulting firm that…

Connecticut Water Board Backs Up, To Solicit New Bids for the Company

May 31, 2018
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Connecticut Water Board Chair, Carol Wallace: Board Opens Bids for Company. CLINTON: After weeks of refusing to address a…

Offshore Wind Set To Power New London’s Deepwater Port

May 30, 2018
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By Mitchell Young NEW LONDON: Connecticut will be making a $15 million investment at the Connecticut State Pier in New…

Feds Giving The Go Ahead For East Windsor Casino – MGM Says Still In the Fight

Jun 01, 2018
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EAST WINDSOR: Federal officials are giving the go ahead for Connecticut’s Mashantucket and Mohegan Tribes for a jointly…

UI Parent Avantgrid and Wind Power Set To Take Off With Massachusetts Selection

May 24, 2018
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By Mitchell Young BOSTON, MA, PROVIDENCE, RI, ORANGE: United Illuminating parent company Avangrid [NYSE AGR] based in Orange…

Health

Medical Practice Consultants Relocate to Shelton

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SHELTON: U.S. Vascular Management Group of Trumbull has leased 8,600 SF of premier office space at International Place, 6 Research Drive in Shelton.…

Quinnipiac Appoints Dean of Nursing School

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NORTH HAVEN : Lisa G. O’Connor of East Haddam has been appointed Dean, of the School of Nursing at Quinnipiac University, O’Connor had been associate…

Hartford HealthCare To Acquire Bridgeport’s St. Vincent's Medical Center

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BRIDGEPORT: St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport and its parent Ascension Health have signed a non-binding letter of intent with Hartford…

Anti-Marijuana Organization Cites Potential Costs to Legalization

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HARTFORD: While Advocates for legalization of recreational use of Marijuana in Connecticut cite economic benefit to the state an anti-legalization…

Advocates for marijuana sales point to big economic boost

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By: Keith M. Phaneuf |ctmirror.org Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana use in Connecticut — and taxing its sales — are hoping a holistic,…

Breaking down this year’s Access Health CT open enrollment

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By: MACKENZIE RIGG | ctmirror.org In all, 114,134 residents enrolled in private health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange,…

Wallingford Medical Device Company Launches Product To Control Internal…

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WALINGFORD: Z-Medica, LLC, a developer of hemostatic devices, announced that QuikClot Control+® approved by the FDA in June of 2017 is now…

Children's Hospital Invests In Mass. Biotech

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HARTFORD: Connecticut Children's Medical Center has made an investment in a small Massachusetts based biotech company Biostage, Inc. [OTCQB:…

State Seeks More Medical Marijuana Sellers

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HARTFORD: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be trying to arrest the increase in marijuana sales in states across the country, but Connecticut is…

Chester Retirement Community Sold

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CHESTER: Chester Village West set on 55 acres with 105 cottages and apartments was purchased by Masonicare, based in Wallingford, the state’s largest…

Technology

Stamford Creates An “Innovation Playground” For Start-Up And Large…

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By Thomas Madden, AICP, Director of Economic Development, Stamford Stamford is preparing to be the city of tomorrow through a repeating $2 million…

Imaging Company Purchases Headquarters Building

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STRATFORD: Kubtec Digital X-Ray has purchased a freestanding building at 111 Research Drive for $1.045 million. The building, on 0.67 acre,…

Road Show On Federal Funding of Tech - Coming To New Haven

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NEW HAVEN: The SBIR Road Tour is coming to New Haven on Tuesday, August 21, to convey the "nondilutive technology funding opportunity" provided…

Non-Profit Water Company Makes “Venture” Investment In Indoor Farming…

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MERIDEN, NEW HAVEN: The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) announced a $500,000 investment in Meriden-based Trifecta…

Legacy AV Company Shows Its Stuff With New Headquarters

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NORTH HAVEN: HB Communications, founded in 1946 is an audiovisual communication solutions company, has opened the doors to its newly renovated…

Tech Firm Relocates To Shelton Office Building

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SHELTON, Dark Field Technologies has relocated their headquarters from Orange to Shelton, according to Jon Angel, president of Angel Commercial,…

New Haven Architects’ Design One of Six Selected for review for uberAIR…

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NEW HAVEN, LOS ANGELES: New Haven based Pickard Chilton working with Arup, Corgan, and The Beck Group was selected as one of six leading architecture…

Connecticut Innovations Funds 43 Companies in Final 2017 Quarter

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ROCKY HILL: Connecticut Innovations (CI), Connecticut’s venture capital arm and what they say is the “leading source of financing and ongoing support…

Fox Network Prevails Against Fairfield Video Search Company In Court

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FAIRFIELD: TVEyes, Inc. has lost in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to Fox News Network, LLC, a decision preventing the…

OPINION: How Connecticut became the least likely innovation hub in the U.S.

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By Matthew McCooe, Connecticut Innovations Think back to where Connecticut was 20 years ago. A National Hockey League franchise had just left the…

Real Estate & Construction

Greater Hartford Office Report Mixed Bag As City Gains – Suburbs Suffer

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HARTFORD: Cushman and Wakefield’s Hartford Office released its Qtr 2 real Esate review for the Hartford Office Market. While the report points to a…

East Hampton Takes Step In Preserving And Protecting Historic Village…

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By Town of East Hampton EAST HAMPTON: In June the town council took an important first step in preserving and protecting its historic Village Center…

Putnam’s Economic Development Thinks Regional with Quinebaug Regional…

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The Y is Q's First Tenant By Putnam Economic Development PUTNAM: n the true spirit of community, the Quinebaug Regional Technology Park (The Q) is a…

West Hartford Transit Development Completed

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WEST HARTFORD: What developers ae calling “a pioneering mixed-use community,” located next to the new CTFastrak “rapid transit stop,” 616 New Park…

Apartment Building Next To SCSU Sold

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HAMDEN: An $8.7 million price tag was made for a 30 unit [130 bed] Hamden apartment building adjacent to Southern Connecticut State University…

Winstanley Investment In Distribution Facility To Exceed $100 Million

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MANCHESTER: Winstanley Enterprises, LLC of Concord, MA has acquired the two million square J.C. Penney distribution warehouse facility located at…

Stamford Creates An “Innovation Playground” For Start-Up And Large…

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By Thomas Madden, AICP, Director of Economic Development, Stamford Stamford is preparing to be the city of tomorrow through a repeating $2 million…

Imaging Company Purchases Headquarters Building

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STRATFORD: Kubtec Digital X-Ray has purchased a freestanding building at 111 Research Drive for $1.045 million. The building, on 0.67 acre,…

Casino Area Hotel Reflagged and Sold

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UNCASVILLE: Fairfield Inn & Suites Uncasville, a recently renovated four-story 105-room hotel located off I-395 has been sold for $11.05 million.…

The “Greatest Small City” Is Undervalued According to Financial Website

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NEW YORK: Smartassets.com the financial resources website says “whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a grizzled veteran of the home-buying…

Government

New Haven Today, But Tomorrow – Two Views

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The streets of the City of New Haven are well packed with young people and even suburbanites for the first time in decades. Apartment rehabs and new…

The Collapse of New Haven

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By Joel Schiavone Enjoy your summer. This is the lull before the storm. Campaigning begins in earnest for state and local elections which will…

Mr. Smith Wants to Go to Hartford

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OPINION: By Mitchell Young Or does he? Webster Bank Chairman and former CEO James Smith said on April 6 he wants to be Connecticut’s next Governor,…

Joel Schiavone: New Haven What Road To Where

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Joel Schiavone in New Haven magazine's first profile in 2007, on the Chaple Street that he layed the foundation for. Perhaps more than any single…

90's Era New Haven Developer Bob Mathews Indicted For EB 5 Visa "Scheme"…

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The estate of former New Haven Developer Bob Mathews, now under federal indictment. The home was priced for auction at $26.5 million, but has been…

Bridgeport Concert Venue Design Revealed

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BRIDGEPORT: Torpedoes or lawsuits be dammed that is the plan of Bridgeport’s Mayor Joe Ganim, and concert amphitheater developers Howard Saffan and…

CT Lawmakers Explore Sports Betting Ahead of SCOTUS Decision

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By: Keith M. Phaneuf and Clarice Silber ctmirror.org HARTFORD: House Democratic leaders are preparing to enact legislation this spring to launch…

Anti-Marijuana Organization Cites Potential Costs to Legalization

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HARTFORD: While Advocates for legalization of recreational use of Marijuana in Connecticut cite economic benefit to the state an anti-legalization…

Nick PernaConverstation with Nick Perna and Keith Phaneuf of CTmirror.

Nicholas S. Perna has been one of the most influential economists in Connecticut for more than three decades.

Retiring in January after 15 years as economic advisor to Webster Bank, Perna has been a consultant to numerous other leading financial institutions, including Fleet Financial Group and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

A former member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, Perna also was tapped in 1991 by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker to serve on a state economic research panel of academic and business experts.

He spoke to the Mirror recently about the state of Connecticut’s economy and its economic future.

A professor of economics for 13 years as Yale University, Perna also has taught at Williams College. NYU’s Stern School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California. Perna and his wife, Catherine, live in Ridgefield.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst week in March since the fall of 2016. After eight years of recovery — albeit a modest one — is the nation’s economy, and Connecticut’s, closer to the next recession than it is to the next boom period?

That’s a really interesting question. Even with the declines that it’s had, the Dow [Jones Industrial Average] is still pretty much ahead of last year’s level, well ahead.

I’ll paraphrase Prof. Paul Samuelson [the first American Nobel laureate in economics]: The stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions.

It’s not really a good harbinger — unless we’re talking about a huge decline — of impending doom.

I think the stock market’s retreat has more to do with President Trump’s problems and how what is near and dear to the market hasn’t happened yet: corporate tax cuts and more infrastructure spending.

But we’ve been barely growing, inching along in Connecticut. We’ve been lagging [the nation] big time, so it wouldn’t take a lot to push Connecticut’s job growth into negative territory this year.

Connecticut ranks high among states in median household income but still hasn’t recovered all of the jobs it lost in The Great Recession. And it has a daunting series of obstacles hindering that growth:

  • An aging population that is not growing.
  • An outdated, congested transportation infrastructure.
  • And huge, unfunded public-sector liabilities that threaten to consume resources for the next two decades.

While none of these challenges is small, which poses the greatest concern?

There’s no doubt in my mind that the last on your list should be the first on our minds. It is the key behind present and future deficits.

In what way?

Deficits are not just corrosive to confidence in the business climate, but eliminating them through taxes or spending cuts is a drag on the economy.

It comes down to how do you follow short-term pain with longer-term gain? So far the state has been very inept at doing that.

Very little has been done about this problem over the last half-dozen years. We need to look to roll back existing benefits. Rhode Island rolled back cost-of-living allowances to state retirement beneficiaries.

But Rhode Island had more legal flexibility while Connecticut guarantees the overwhelming bulk of its public-sector retirement benefits by contract.

I understand there is a different legal set up, but all of that stuff that is sacrosanct should not be sacrosanct.

We also have a lot of duplication. We’ve got a boatload of state college and community college and University of Connecticut campuses, all of which require lots of well paid administrators. … If this was a business it would not be run like that.

I don’t want to hear that it’s not possible. If we have the courage and the foresight to deal with it, it can be dealt with.

If we didn’t have the obstacle (of current and future projected deficits), we could do better with jobs, we’d have a faster-growing population, we could invest in an updated infrastructure.

In economics, so many things are interrelated.

The financial services and insurance industries absorbed major losses during the last recession, while the recovery has been marked chiefly by growth in the much-lower-paying retail and services sectors. What strategy should Connecticut be pursuing to grow higher-paying jobs here?

It’s hard to address it directly. We do try lure companies to the state by incentives and keep them here by incentives. But you can’t compete with Boston or Massachusetts with that alone.

One of the many reasons we have to go after companies is because we drive companies out.

If you grant that, then it’s going to be a tough road to hoe in Connecticut job-wise, for years to come. All the latest legislature did, vis a vis the [state employee] pension liability, was spread it out over a number of years, reduce the peak but increase the overall cost. It  kicked the can down the road and made it bigger.

How much damage did GE’s announcement last year that it would move its headquarters to Boston do to Connecticut’s business image?

What did we lose?

We probably lost several hundred jobs, but these weren’t just extremely well-paid jobs. They were visible jobs.

I don’t think there was a development director in any state or town outside of Connecticut who didn’t drool at our ineptness to deal with the problem. … It was sad to see what was going on.

Even more important than that was the fact that we brought this about with punitive tax legislation.

It may have been only 200 jobs, but it was worth 200,000 jobs in terms of bad publicity.

Some say if those incentives — such as the $85 million provided to two hedge funds over the past year — aren’t provided, Connecticut will lose more companies.

It’s not sustainable politically, I think.

If I were a rank-and-file state worker, or a rank-and-file taxpayer — which I am — it kind of gets my dander up to subsidize an industry that’s subsidized even more at the federal level by being taxed on their carried interest.

Despite Connecticut’s reputation as a high-tax state, some point to a study prepared annually for the Council on State Taxation by Ernst & Young. This report, which measures state and local taxes as a share of gross state product, finds Connecticut to have one of the most favorable business tax climates in the country. Is there merit to this sort of ranking system?

I think there is. But I think that a couple of things are important to remember.

It’s not just the level of taxes that are of concern vis a vis the business climate of the state, it’s the gross uncertainty around these taxes that has been with us, particularly over the last half-dozen years. A company like GE or any large company doesn’t know if they’re going to get something big thrown at them or not.

If you were to rank states on anxiety generated by the state budget process, I’m sure we’d rank near the top.

But I also think there is another point to be made. (The Ernst and Young study) doesn’t reflect the full picture of cost. There is the horrendous cost of energy in the state. I don’t know how you measure regulatory burden, but if you’re a large company pondering locating in the Northeast you look at all of these things.

Still, if you have a product or a service that can command large (profit) margins in Connecticut, that could swamp the negative effect of taxes.

The business community keeps pressing legislators to keep state and municipal taxes flat, insisting this is a prerequisite to any economic growth. But surging fixed costs alone are projected to mandate frequent spending increases over the next 15 to 20 years. Can our economy grow if we are forced, out of contractual obligation, to raise taxes every two-year budget cycle over the next decade or two?

It’s a gamble I wouldn’t be willing to take. I think it runs the risk of leaving us in a worse situation in 10 years. You and I could be having the same conversation a decade from now.

I think what this calls for, in a sense, is the recognition this is a state emergency. It can’t be business as usual. Drastic measures have to be taken.

I threw out a number of ideas a few years back.

Number one was to have sunset provisions on all major legislation so we have to revisit them.

Another thing is having an independent body to review legislation for its economic impact, whether it is tax legislation, spending, or for that matter, casino construction legislation.

It’s not that we can’t deal with it; it’s that we won’t deal with it.

This Q & A has been edited for length and clarity.