Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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Small Businesses Expanding,
I would like to share some good news with you about the state of our economy: Things are starting to look up.
In January, Connecticut added 7,100 new jobs, bringing the total over the last 12 months to 11,900 new jobs, according to the state Department of Labor. Unemployment dropped to 8 percent, below the national average of 8.3 percent.
Also, a recent report by researchers with the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UCONN estimated that the state could gain 18,000 new jobs over the next two years, or as many as 30,000 jobs, if you include capital projects all over the state. These are very positive economic indicators, though our clear challenge is to keep up momentum.
Our landmark jobs bill that we passed last October is already helping small businesses expand. One such local success story is My Three Sons, an indoor family entertainment center in Norwalk that was awarded a grant from our newly created Small Business Express Program. That grant will help the business expand and hopefully create new jobs, a win-win for everyone.
In fact, the Small Business Express Program is such an early success we are looking to expand the definition of a small business from 50 to 100 employees so more companies qualify for the program.
Protecting Consumers in Connecticut
In the wake of last year’s devastating hurricane and winter storms, we have proposed legislation that would extend protection from price-gouging to weather-related services and emergency lodging in the event of a severe storm. Services covered by the bill include snow removal, flood abatement services, lodging and post-storm clean-up or repair services.
Other consumer protection proposals we are considering this session:
- A law that would stop the unnecessary collection of Social Security numbers by private businesses, unless a Social Security number is required by law.
- Requiring businesses to provide explicit notification when an introductory rate or trial period is about to expire and automatically renew. The law would apply to short-term contracts, such as subscriptions for magazines or online services.
- Banning the use of personal tracking Global Positioning System (GPS) devices under certain circumstances. Unlike the devices used by motorists, these small devices can be secretly attached by an individual to another person’s car without the driver’s knowledge or consent allowing that vehicle’s movements to be tracked by the perpetrator.
Funding for the Arts
Earlier this month I was very pleased to learn that four local nonprofit organizations that support music and arts in Norwalk would be getting $8,000 in state grants to share.
Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund grants announced March 5 include:
- $1,111 for the Center for Contemporary Printmaking,
- $1,849 for the Norwalk Symphony Society,
- $773 for the Norwalk Youth Symphony, and
- $4,348 for Shakespeare on the Sound.
Art and music are such important parts of our community and I thank the state Department of Economic and Community Development for giving these important nonprofit organizations a funding boost.
Keeping Local History Alive
When I heard that the Norwalk Historical Society needed a little help securing funding for its much-loved Little Red Schoolhouse program for children, I knew I could find a few generous souls in our community to help out.
I was right.
Harry Carey of AT&T stepped up to the plate with $2,000 for the program and the law firm Halloran & Sage came up with a $500 donation. Now these are true community partners.
The Little Red Schoolhouse Program at Mill Hill Historic Park has hosted countless trips for local students who get to experience an educational trip back in time to the early days of Norwalk’s history. These generous donations will ensure more children get to take advantage of this valuable local resource.