Making Connecticut Business Friendly

Many people don't understand the connection between a business-friendly climate and housing prices. Connecticut is a good example of it. We have ranked dead last among the fifty states in job creation over the past twenty years--for those of you who are counting, that's far longer than the current recession. We export college students, young people, all kinds of people. They go where the jobs are. Lots of you will know where those places are, because it's where your children live.

Without new jobs, there aren't people coming into the state, or staying in the state, to buy homes. Therefore, there isn't a growing market, and there are no buyers for those homes vacated by others who leave, or who downsize, or who transition into assisted living. That also means that new construction competes with existing housing, since relocated homeowners who buy new homes therefore don't buy current ones. All of this explains why low job growth is bad.

But why is it bad? To begin with, we in the Land of Steady Habits tend to believe that everyone wants to live here, and therefore we don't have to make it attractive to do so. We also tend to believe that businesses need to be here. That's true in some cases--like a local real estate firm, or a utility--but is clearly not the case in manufacturing and in more other industries than you would think. So we don't push our lawmakers and state and local officials to do more to attract and retain business. Yes, we want to keep those big defense contracts. But most of the jobs are in small businesses and start-ups. That's where the NIMBY (not in my back yard) folks, the preservationists, the anti-big box protesters, and the knee-jerk city planners and economic development departments lose the race for jobs. Of course, those same people often decry the increases in taxes, but without seeing the connection.

What can you do? Ask your municipality and state officials to be kind to business. Don't jump on the bandwagon to avoid personal tax increases by loading up corporate taxes. Don't let local planning and zoning processes become obstacle courses. Try to think about all sides of the issues. And vote for those who do.