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Business Group Elects New Leader


HARTFORD — The largest business organization in the state has a new leader.

James P. Torgerson, president and CEO of UIL Holdings Corporation  has been elected chair of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s board of directors.

Based in Hartford, CBIA is the state’s largest business organization that aims to support policies that promote economic growth, a fiscally responsible state government and a dynamic business climate. Torgerson had served as vice-chair of the CBIA board since December 2012.

“I’m very excited about working with our partners in the business community and the government to help recast Connecticut as a more business-friendly state,” Torgerson said. “While we certainly face significant challenges, I also expect the months and years ahead to be rich with opportunities for growth and job creation in Connecticut.”

Torgerson succeeds the previous CBIA board chair, Donald R. Droppo Jr., president and CEO of Curtis Packaging in Sandy Hook.

Torgerson has been UIL’s president and CEO since 2006. UIL is the parent company of The United Illuminating Company, The Southern Connecticut Gas Company and Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation, as well as The Berkshire Gas Company in Massachusetts.

Torgerson has served locally as a board member of Yale New Haven Hospital and the Business Council of Fairfield County. He is also chair of REX (Regional Economic Xcelleration), the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, and he serves as a trustee of the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools.

At the national level, he sits on the boards of directors for the Edison Energy Institute and the American Gas Association.

 

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Colleges to Offer Free Green Jobs Program


CBIA Teams Up With Community Colleges to Offer Free Training Programs to Prepare Workers for New Careers in Fast-Growing Green Industries

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), in conjunction with three Connecticut community colleges, is offering free training programs to help workers expand their skills and knowledge and prepare them for new careers in one of the fastest-growing green industries— solar photovoltaics (PV). The program is available free of charge to eligible participants under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal grant.

During the month of September, six 44–hour solar PV training programs will be offered to TANF-eligible individuals. The courses will be held at Gateway Community College in North Haven, Middlesex Community College in Middletown, and Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

“Over the past several years, concerns about the environment and effective use of resources have led to an explosion of green processes, products, and services,” says Judith K. Resnick, CBIA’s director of workforce development and training and the executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation. “As more investments are made in sustainable, green industries, we must have a workforce equipped with the skills to compete and succeed in this fast-growing field,” says Resnick. “This program is one step toward meeting that need.”

Eligible individuals can participate in an entry-level course and/or a technical sales program. The solar PV entry level program is designed for entry level workers or individuals working in the electrical or construction trades who would like to become solar PV installation assistants. The solar PV technical sales course is aimed at individuals with strong math and communication skills who would like to enhance their current skills or begin new careers as technical salespeople.

The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) TANF Emergency Contingency Fund and administered through the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services. Matching funds are provided by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.

To be eligible for this free training, participants must have dependent children and meet TANF income eligibility and U.S. citizenship requirements. For complete eligibility guidelines, course descriptions, dates and locations, or to download application and registration materials, visit www.cbia.com/edf. A mandatory math assessment for interested students will be held the week of Aug. 23, 2010, at participating colleges. For more information, contact Deb Presbie, CBIA project consultant, at 860-244-1932 or email deb.presbie@cbia.com.


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Businesses Concern About State’s Fiscal Health


Budget Deficits Affecting Companies’ Long-Term Decisions

HARTFORD — Some Connecticut businesses are worried about the state’s pending budget deficit and the impact on thier long-term decisions, according to a report by Connecticut Business & Industry Association in collaboration with the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce

According to the CBIA, businesses in northwestern Connecticut say virtually all businesses are concerned about state’s fiscal problems, and almost three-quarters are “extremely concerned.” In a post-recession economy, many believe the manufacturing and technology sectors will be critical to their region’s success.

Those are among the key findings of the March  2010 Survey of Northwest Connecticut Businesses. The survey examines the region’s business climate and economic factors that shape companies’ ability to compete and grow in Litchfield County.CBIA received 346 completed surveys from companies in the northwestern Connecticut region.

“While the survey may show some improvement in economic conditions, our biggest challenge will be to keep our state leaders focused on the key issue: fiscal responsibility, resulting in a major reduction in our uncontrolled state spending,” says Peter B. Kent, CEO and chairman, Bicron Electronics Co.in Canaan, and chairman of the CBIA Board of Directors.

While the cost of doing business in a high-cost state remains a top business concern, perceptions regarding which variables drive up business expenses have changed, CBIA states in a press release.

Two years ago, energy and health care costs were tied for the top spot among companies’ biggest cost concerns, each getting 31 percent of the vote. Today health care is the number one concern, with 71 percent calling it a significant burden. The price of electricity, oil, and gas is second, and labor costs and local property taxes were identified as the third most burdensome cost to doing business.

Other key findings include:

  • Over two-thirds of businesses (68 percent) surveyed give the national business climate a below-average rating and an even greater number (80 percent) say Connecticut’s business climate is below average.
  • More than half of northwestern Connecticut businesses (55 percent) anticipate reducing employee benefits in 2010 in response to current economic conditions. A significant number expect to reduce employee benefit compensation (41 percent) and/or the size of their workforce (39 percent).
  • Health care continues to be the most significant cost burden to operating a business in northwestern Connecticut. The vast majority (92 percent) believe tort reform can help to reduce malpractice costs, while 90 percent believe a greater focus on wellness and disease/injury prevention are the most effective strategies for controlling health care costs.
  • Maintaining and growing the region’s manufacturing sector is seen as the top economic priority for northwestern Connecticut, followed closely by regional collaboration to attract business investment.
  • Most businesses believe economic recovery in northwestern Connecticut will begin in earnest around 2012.

“The results of this year’s survey suggest a heightened interest in regional collaboration, greater emphasis on the area’s manufacturing sector, modest expectations for economic recovery in the near term, and significant concerns about taxes, health care costs and the state’s budget deficit,” says Peter M. Gioia, vice president and economist, CBIA. “All of these are factors influenced by legislators in Hartford.”

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