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    states move to aggressively lure CT companies

    States are hungry for Connecticut businesses.

    About 25 percent of the companies in the Hartford-Springfield region have been approached by other states to consider relocation or expansion elsewhere, according to the 2011 Hartford-Springfield Business Survey released Friday.

    Among manufacturing firms, 39 percent say they have received a recruitment pitch from other states.

    And 50 percent of firms employing 50 or more workers said they have considered moving or expanding out of state in the past five years.

    Business leaders say the survey results are alarming and underscore the pressures on the area's businesses brought on by economic conditions in the aftermath of the recession.

    "A major challenge to this region's competitive ability is its tax and regulatory environment," said Oz Griebel, CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance. "Changes need to be made that support private-sector investment and job retention."

    The fact that Connecticut companies are being lured by other states is nothing new. Connecticut's high costs and anti business reputation have placed a bulls eye over businesses operating in the state.

    And the survey results are being made public just weeks after Connecticut lawmakers wrapped up a legislative session that was seen by many industry insiders as anti business, with the passage of $1.5 billion in tax increases and the first in the country paid sick leave measure.

    Among other findings from the survey:

    聞 When asked about the greatest benefits of doing business in the interstate region, business respondents praised the area's quality of life as its primary asset (43 percent). Other assets include its proximity to customers (30 percent) and the region's skilled workforce (17 percent).

    聞 But fewer than half (45 percent) of the companies in the region plan to expand over the next year. Most cited "economic uncertainties" as the primary reason.

    聞 Another 60 percent said the cost of doing business was a primary barrier, while 37 percent said decreased consumer spending will thwart any expansions. Also on the negative side, 46 percent of firms said the weak economy and another 34 percent said taxes were their greatest concerns about doing business here. Some 10 percent said the regulatory climate posed a problem.

    聞 The survey found support (58 percent) for transferring the governance of Bradley International Airport from the state Department of Transportation to an independent authority. (The General Assembly recently passed legislation that accomplishes this through the creation of the Connecticut Airport Authority.)

    聞 Notably, another 41 percent voiced support for the reestablishment of direct international service to Europe from Bradley.

    聞 Sixty-three percent voiced support for upgraded, interstate rail service that will connect New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, perhaps seeing the rail line as a way to reduce the traffic congestion and deteriorating infrastructure, seen by 45 percent as the most pressing transportation issue facing the region.

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    Hartford Business Journal Online
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    Hartford Business Journal Online

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