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From the Commissioner’s Desk

Connecticut has some of the most educated, innovative and productive workers in the world. Ensuring Connecticut has a robust talent pipeline flowing into the future takes strategic planning, foresight and effective collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Earlier this month I participated in the Aerospace Components Manufacturers’ Future Workforce Opportunities Fair and Trade Show. ACM is a coalition of more than 100 companies in Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts that make parts and components for nearly everything that flies. 

During the morning, nearly a thousand students from over 40 high schools came to find out about the array of good-paying careers manufacturing offers. The Connecticut Convention Center was abuzz with the enthusiasm of the students and company leadership. 

Connecticut manufacturing is growing, in large measure due to big orders for Sikorsky helicopters, Pratt & Whitney jet engines, Electric Boat submarines and the subsequent downstream support provided through the hundreds of suppliers in Connecticut.

To keep our manufacturers here and growing, we need a pipeline of skilled workers to replace the generation of employees who will be retiring in the next decade. Early outreach to students is just one of the ways the manufacturing community is working to build a prosperous future.

Catherine  

Bob’s Discount Furniture opens new HQ in Manchester, plans to create 125 new jobs

Bob’s Discount Furniture has opened its new corporate headquarters in its hometown of Manchester, a 103,000-square-foot building adjacent to its previous headquarters. Bob’s now has 89 stores in states as far west as Missouri, and the company is looking to expand to the West Coast, said co-founder and spokesman Bob Kaufman.

Bob’s employs 326 people at its headquarters and agreed to add and retain 125 jobs in exchange for state support including a low-interest loan, employee-training grant, and tax credits. “It started here. It’s staying here,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said when ground was broken for the project in October 2016.

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Pratt opens new $180M engineering center, part of UTC’s expansion of Conn. facilities

Pratt & Whitney has opened its new $180 million engineering and technology facility in East Hartford. The new center will house engineers designing Pratt’s Geared Turbofan and F-135 jet engines, for which the company has a backlog of orders totaling more than 8,000 engines.

The new facility is part of parent United Technologies’ $400-million investment in its Connecticut facilities made over the last five years. That includes the refurbished UT Research Center on the Pratt campus. Pratt is in the midst of a hiring boom; it’s hired 1,600 people in Connecticut in the past 20 months and expects to hire another 8,000 here over the next decade.

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Dutch InsureTech company wins top prize in VentureClash pitch competition

FRISS, a Dutch company that uses data analytics to provide solutions in the fields of fraud, risk, and compliance for the insurance industry, took first prize in the 2017 VentureClash, Connecticut Innovations’ global pitch competition for tech firms. FRISS will set up its U.S. offices in Connecticut and receive a $1.5 million CI investment.

Two second-place winners – SCADAfence, an Israeli network-security firm, and Vouchr, a Canadian firm whose platform combines social networking with online payments – will each receive a $1 million CI investment if they set up shop in Connecticut. Three third-place companies can each receive $500,000 investments for launching offices in Connecticut.

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Arts enhance Connecticut’s quality of life – and they add $797 million to the state’s economy

Connecticut’s quality of life consistently ranks among the best in the nation, and one reason is the state’s arts scene. But a new report says that the arts are a significant economic driver as well, pumping $797 million into the state’s economy.

According to the report from Americans for the Arts, non-profit arts and cultural organizations supported 23,115 jobs in 2015 and generated $71 million in local and state taxes. They drew 9.8 million attendees who spent an average of $27.70 per person in meals, refreshments, lodging and more. In addition, arts organizations benefited from 1.1 million volunteer hours and in-kind contributions worth $11.1 million. 

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In the news: Growing Connecticut businesses

Check out these recent articles spotlighting businesses that are growing and thriving in Connecticut, including Bioasis Technologies, Wayback Burgers, Amgraph Packaging, XPO Logistics, Two Roads Brewing Company, PCX Aerostructures, Makino Inc. and Joining Technologies.

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Bradley ranked as the fifth best airport in the USA in new Readers’ Choice Awards

Bradley International Airport is one of the best airports in the country, according to readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Bradley was ranked fifth in the magazine’s 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, which called it “an attractive alternative to flying out of New York’s and Boston’s monster hubs.” 

The rankings were based on responses of more than 300,000 readers who rated 195 domestic and foreign airports. “Customers praise its convenient on-site parking, plentiful charging stations and free Wi-Fi, decent restaurant options, and overall relaxed atmosphere,” the magazine said. Bradley was also the top-ranked airport in New England.

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The Insurance Capital now aims to become the Captive Insurance Capital, too

Connecticut is synonymous with insurance – it has the greatest percentage of insurance employees of any state. Now Connecticut is positioning itself as a home for captive insurers, which are wholly-owned subsidiaries that insure their corporate parents.

Earlier this year, Charter Communications announced it was bringing its captive to Connecticut, making it the largest of 15 captives headquartered here. The insurance department says more captives are headed to Connecticut, which is perfect for captives because of the number of actuaries and service providers already here, according to an industry consultant.

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With $2.3M gift, University of Bridgeport will create Innovation Center

The University of Bridgeport has begun construction on a new Innovation Center that will serve student entrepreneurs and Connecticut-based businesses looking to grow. The Innovation Center will house offices, conference rooms, brainstorming rooms, professional services, an international trade center and a maker space.

The center will also house UB’s existing venture programs, including the Student Entrepreneur Center, which has launched 11 student-owned companies in two years, and the UB Incubator. Funding the center is a $2.3 million gift from George and Carol Bauer, Fairfield County philanthropists.

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Bioscience firm that combines genomic testing with big data brings 75 jobs to Connecticut

Sema4, which provides advanced genomic testing and merges big data analytics with clinical diagnostics, opened its new headquarters in Stamford. The company provides genetic screening for those who are pregnant or expecting to start a family, as well as genomic testing to help oncologists personalize and optimize cancer treatments.

The company, spun off earlier this year from the Mount Sinai Health System, employs about 75 at its new headquarters – with plans to grow to 140 by next summer – and another 50 at its lab in Branford. Sema4 officials said the company will seek additional investors to fuel its growth.

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