It was a day of talking business in Stamford when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy swept through Wednesday, making stops at both the Business Council of Fairfield County's winter luncheon and the grand re-opening of the Women’s Business Development Council's office.
The luncheon featured businesses from Fairfield County gathering to discuss the current economic landscape and hear from the top state official about what steps are being taken to help stimulate job creation in Connecticut.
Business Council of Fairfield County Vice President of Public Policy Joe McGee said the luncheon offered business owners in the region a chance to directly connect with the politicians that support them so they can air the issues they face through the channels that will help most.
"It's a chance for business owners, both large and smaller entrepreneurial companies, to propose questions directly to the governor," said McGee. "They get to ask him 'what's happening,' themselves. Is the job market improving? what is the state doing to help create jobs? How is he encouraging Connecticut to grow?"
The governor's two-pronged approach focused on just that. At the luncheon, he said his work over the last two years was simply poising Connecticut to be in a position where it would be able to continue to grow strongly over the long-term, but that there was still a long road ahead of them.
"Economic Development is at the forefront of everything we're doing," Malloy said during his address. "Until every person in Connecticut who's looking for a job, can find a job, our job's not done."
Malloy went onto call Stamford, and Fairfield County at large, a solid building block off which the rest of Connecticut should be taking advantage.
"Yes, some of the... biggest investments that we're making are in this area and I get criticized about that upstate," Malloy said. "But the reality is we have to build on our strengths, and Stamford, in this marketplace, is a strength."
Malloy said his role in stepping up Connecticut's efforts has brought $2 billion in private investment dollars and vastly expanded the business pool for the state, from 200 companies in the previous six years before he took office to 600 companies in which the state has invested, made loans, or interacted in the two years since he took office.
At the Women's Business Development Council, Malloy said women have, for far too long, been a workforce operating in the shadows of their male counterparts, and he was ready to see to it Connecticut was ready to make gender inequalities a thing of the past.
Malloy cited Connecticut having the second-largest pay gap in New England, with women earning only 75.8-percent of their male counterparts, as a driver for a new program he was forming. He said 40-percent of that gap has been shown to amount to nothing other than discrimination.
"Even though we took national steps in the past...we still have a ways to go in our own state," Malloy said. "What I've directed to the Department of Labor—led by a woman—to undertake is our own Connecticut study of this problem and to make recommendations on how we deal with it in the short- and long-run."
The WBDC is a national organization with 110 chapters that helps educate female business owners about the available resources that can help get them established. Fran Pastore, founder and chief executive officer of the Stamford Chapter, is the only WBDC member to have a seat on the National Women's Business Council.
The governor was on hand Wednesday to help the Stamford WBDC open their new Financial Center at 184 Bedford St., which was only accomplished thanks to a $239,000 loan and $100,000 grant from Malloy's Small Business Express program, administered through the Department of Economic and Community Development.