Looking Back, Looking Ahead

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Community leaders gaze into the crystal ball

By Thomas R. Violante

In April of 1638, a small band of Puritans, who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony, sailed into a harbor in the north central part of Long Island Sound and landed on the southern shores of what is now known as Connecticut. They called their new home New Haven.


Led by Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, a London merchant who joined them, the band of Puritans had fled England in search of a place where they could establish their own colony where they could freely practice their own religion. They bought the land from the Quinnipiack Indian tribe, who surrendered the land in exchange for the EnglishmenÂ’s protection from attack by the rival Pequot Indian tribe to their east. Like other colonies established elsewhere in New England, the New Haven Colony was ruled by Biblical laws. Only church members were allowed to vote in the colony.


A lot has changed since that day in 1638.


New Haven sits at the gateway to New England, the second-largest city in Connecticut with a population over 132,000. It is largely regarded as the cultural center of the state, home to Yale University, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and a diverse collection of theaters, museums, restaurants and events that draw thousands of people from across the country and around the world.


We asked several corporate and institutional leaders to comment on what makes the region a destination for commerce, innovation and culture on the occasion of New HavenÂ’s 375th birthday. We also asked them to gaze into their crystal ball and forecast where their own industries and companies might be in the next 25 years.


“New Haven has become a national model for kindergarten through graduate school cooperation, collaboration and innovation, thanks in large part to the leadership of Mayor John DeStefano and Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo,” says Steven H. Kaplan, president of the University of New Haven. “I think the seeds thus far planted will enable the city to continue to attract "http://fabulousfurnitureon28.com/file click here increasing number of biotech, high tech and new-economy manufacturing companies. The combination of a well-prepared workforce, thanks to the aforementioned innovation, and an exceptionally strong creative arts community will position New Haven as a national model for ingenuity and new job creation.”


Kaplan adds that there will be changes in the future regarding higher education.


“We’ll see an increasing focus on cost versus value and on new approaches to program delivery,” predicts Kaplan. “Collaboration between private industry and innovative educational institutions will generate dynamic and cost-effective approaches to education from kindergarten through graduate school.”


For the future of UNH, Kaplan adds that the West Haven university will increase its focus on science and engineering.


“UNH is collaborating with the city of New Haven on a dynamic STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics] magnet school and a marine science center on Long Island Sound,” Kaplan says. “We are also working with a major private-equity firm on a new model for engineering education that will lead to the development of branch campuses across the nation.


“Over the next 25 years, I envision UNH continuing to build on its strong history of responding to market needs and demands,” concludes Kaplan. “This will mean enhancing its leading-edge programs in such areas as forensic science, criminal justice and marine biology while dramatically expanding its national presence in other critically important fields such as engineering and computer science.”



Roger Joyce, vice president of engineering for the Bilco Co. of West Haven, echoes KaplanÂ’s thoughts.

"//#visit_us">Barbara Pearce


“The future for the region is embedded in science and technology,” says Joyce. “It’s already shown great strength in bioscience and it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come. The fact that we have in place so many small and growing innovative laboratories, in addition to all the research that’s going on at Yale University, Yale Medical School and Yale-New Haven Hospital, are indications of growth industries that will stay here in the region. The educated workforce that we have supports all of this work.”


Joyce foresees change on the horizon for the manufacturing industry.




“Industry is changing a lot,” notes Joyce. “Manufacturing will continue to exist in the state but in a different form that’s evolving now. Precision manufacturing, like in the aerospace industry, is an indication of the kind of support that our level of education can bring to innovation in manufacturing.”


Looking ahead to the next 25 years for Bilco, Joyce reflects on the companyÂ’s intention to remain in the region.


“We are committed to keeping our world headquarters here in West Haven even though our manufacturing is now located in the Midwest,” adds Joyce, whose family-owned company makes access products including the legendary eponymous doors. “We look forward to the redevelopment of our neighborhood as does [West Haven] Mayor John Picard. The city "http://traclabs.com/psd/buy//#there">there seeking a developer to build here along the water. It would be ideal for us if an office building was built here where we could relocate. We’ll remain active in international market growth and new product development and we’ll continue to open new markets around the world.”


Changes are already taking shape in the real estate market according to Barbara Pearce, president of H. Pearce Co., Realtors.


“New Haven will continue to evolve as an educational, arts and cultural center for the region and the Northeast,” Pearce says. “It will continue to attract artists and people who are involved in intellectual pursuits and contribute to the region, where we have great nightlife, dining and residential living.”


Pearce adds that the regional outlook relates to what her industry will be like in the next 25 years.

“Realtors will no longer just be about giving information on properties,” she notes. “You can get your own information now, so we will have two functions: One is that we will serve as professional negotiators for people; two, that we will act as concierges for the region, so that when people move into the region or are deciding where to buy within the area, they will use us because we’re experts on our region and we can match what people want to what is available.”


Pearce says her company is poised to continue its growth and has already anticipated some of what may be expected of Realtors.


“Our company is well-positioned for the future because parts of our business are already suited to specific needs,” Pearce explains. “We have relocation services, senior services, and a luxury department. As the Gen X and Gen Y people take the place of the baby-boomers, it’s clear from what they say that they’re looking for quality of life and work-life balance. We’re already aimed at giving people the exact experience they’re looking for, and that area will expand for us in the future.”


Miles Lasater, co-founder and chief operating officer of Higher One, a company focused on helping college business offices manage operations and provide enhanced financial services to students, summed up what he expects for the future.


“New Haven has deep entrepreneurial roots including Eli Whitney, Winchester, funding the early oil industry and many more,” says Lasater. “As we look forward to the next 25 years, I am excited to see the flourishing of more entrepreneurship."

Should Connecticut Give Special Incentives to Individual Companies?

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