An interesting article by the Hartford Courant’s Kenneth Gosselin on Sunday posed the question: “What does it mean to be business friendly?” More specifically, what does it mean here in Connecticut? Gosselin says:
There is plenty of disagreement about what constitutes business friendly, but there’s no dispute about its importance for every state, as governors across the nation play it up. That’s especially true in a state that ranks at or near the bottom in job creation over the last two decades.
Before discussing these issues in the context of Pfizer’s relationship with the State (including its recent decision to relocate jobs to Cambridge, Massachusetts), Gosselin discusses the importance of a direct line of communication between CEOs and the State’s equivalent of a “CEO”: the Governor. He recounts the recent efforts of Governor Dannel Malloy on this score:
Since taking office in early January, Malloy has been visiting employers around the state, including Electric Boat, Travelers, Aetna, CIGNA and several manufacturers including United Technologies Corp. — and he has been struck by some of the reaction that he is getting.
“Almost every time I speak to someone in the business community, they say, ‘We’re talking to you, the governor? Wow.'” Malloy said.
Malloy’s message to business executives has been direct: The state needs to get its fiscal house in order, answer questions quickly from business and streamline the process for obtaining licenses and permits.
“We have to constantly be doing all we can to help create another job,” he said.
The article continues:
CEOs expect to deal with executives at the same level at other companies, and that goes for the state of Connecticut, said Matthew Nemerson, the [Connecticut Technology Council’s] president.
“The culture is, ‘at our level we deal with CEOs,'” Nemerson said. “In state government, that’s the governor. So that’s the game.”
Nemerson said it’s crucial for the governor to build relationships with business executives before a company faces a crisis or an expansion — so the CEO is comfortable picking up the telephone and calling the governor.