HARTFORD — A plan to build on and expand the job-creating momentum of October’s landmark Jobs Bill was debated and passed in the state Senate on Friday.
Senate Bill 1, “An Act Concerning Jobs and the Economy,” expands state workforce and small business development programs, provide incentives to hire post-9/11 combat veterans, promotes Connecticut’s economic and cultural assets, and seeks to reward businesses that are willing to relocate jobs from overseas back to Connecticut, according to Sen. Eric D. Coleman (D-Bloomfield).
The vote on Friday comes as reports show that Connecticut is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in three years; since January, Connecticut has added 10,500 new jobs.
One of the hallmarks of the bipartisan October Jobs Bill was the Small Business Express program, which set aside $100 million in state loans and grants over two years for small manufacturers, especially those in precision manufacturing, business services, green and sustainable technology, and bioscience and information technology.
So far, more than 500 small businesses in Connecticut have applied for Small Business Express assistance; 38 loans totaling $32 million have already been approved, creating 193 new jobs and retaining 213 jobs in Connecticut, according to state officials.
Senate Bill 1
Expands the existing Small Business Express Program to an estimated 3,600 additional state businesses. Under current law, a business qualifies for Express loans and grants if it employs 50 or fewer people; Senate Bill 1 raises that employee ceiling to 100 employees.
Establish the Unemployed Armed Forces Member STEP-UP (Subsidized Training and Employment Program) with grants to subsidize a businesses’ cost of hiring unemployed veterans during their first 180 days (about six months) on the job. The bill authorizes $10 million in bonds for the program, with $5 million available upon passage and the balance available in Fiscal Year 2014.
Creates the “Connecticut Made” and “Connecticut Treasures” programs to promote products made in Connecticut and promote the state’s cultural, educational and historic attractions. Part of the bill provides for the design planning, and implementation of a multiyear, state-wide marketing and advertising plan that includes television and radio advertisements showcasing Connecticut-made products and the advantages they offer.
Seek to relocate overseas jobs to Connecticut by allowing the state Department of Economic and Community Development to give a preference under the “First Five Plus” program to companies that will relocate jobs from overseas to Connecticut; assistance includes loans, tax incentives and other forms of economic development that create jobs and invest capital within a certain timeframe.
According to the State Labor Department, Connecticut’s private sector has now recovered 46,600, or 42.3%, of the private jobs lost in the recessionary downturn which officially lasted from March 2008 to February 2010.
Over the past year, the largest private-sector job gains have been in the education, health services, transportation, public utilities, and professional and business service sectors. The largest number of job cuts has been in the government sector, which lost 4,800 jobs in the past year.