Project B.E.S.T. Summit
175-plus CT leaders convened in mid-November 2015 in Westbrook for a first-ever economic summit organized by CCM, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.
The three statewide organizations partnered for the first time to hold a unique Connecticut summit meeting for key business, government, labor, education, and social service leaders to brainstorm on the best common pathways for Connecticut’s economic future. On November 12th and November 13, 2015 the Project B.E.S.T. (Bringing Every Stakeholder Together) Summit occurred – with a group of key policy leaders and stakeholders from every region of Connecticut.
Stakeholders came together again on Monday, November 14, 2016 as part of CCM's Annual Convention to continue the discussion.
Below is information on the findings of the 2015 Summit as well as information on the continuation in 2016.
Project B.E.S.T. 2016 back to top
In conjunction with the 2016 CCM Convention at Foxwoods Resort, collaborating partners CCM, CBIA, and CT AFL-CIO reconvened Project B.E.S.T. on Monday, November 14, 2016, again gathering a select group of policy leaders and stakeholders across Connecticut from business, labor, education, government and social services, to brainstorm on the best pathways to a brighter economic future for Connecticut.
In an effort to further drill into crucial discussions initiated last November, we streamlined our working committees into the following categories:
- Fiscal and Regulatory Environment (Funding Side)
- Effective and Efficient Services (Delivery Side)
- Workforce Development
Kenya Rutland, principal of KJR Consultanting, joined us again to continue his facilitator role with us.
Additional Resources 2016 back to top
Background 2015 back to top
The work of the summit’s participants resulted in the recommendation of over 20 key policy proposals for state leaders to consider.
“As one can see from the breadth and range of ideas presented, the summit achieved its first goal, but our work has only begun,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “We now have engaged with a subcommittee of interested stakeholders from the summit with whom we will actively work to advance these findings with state leaders in 2016.”
The summit was led by Kenya Rutland, principal of KJR Consulting, whose team worked with leaders in specific subgroup areas that best pertained to their interests and professional backgrounds.
The summit included a keynote address on the first evening by veteran Capitol journalist Keith Phaneuf of The Connecticut Mirror - a leading reporter on state budget issues for nearly 25 years. He was followed the next morning on the state of the Connecticut economy by Robert Triest, Vice President and Economist with The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Small group discussions followed these talks and produced a consensus on the key initiatives presented in the report findings.
Key Findings 2015 back to top
Here are highlights of key consensus findings presented in each arena in 2015:
Taxes and Regulations
- Reform the process for the “implementer” bill for the state budget to bring back greater transparency and avoid unvetted state law.
- Establish an advisory council across business, labor and municipalities to define, create and report on specific metrics that can assess the best pathways to grow jobs in Connecticut.
- Create a truly sustainable business environment that attracts jobs, people, opportunity across all levels.
- Establish and enforce the discipline needed for the State to live within its fiscal means.
- Bridge the economic growth and income gap among counties in the State.
Education and Workforce Development
- Create one coordinated voice to represent educational administrators, teachers, boards of education and other municipal officials, in order to best address, reduce unfunded state mandates.
- Reformulate the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant Program for towns and cities and local public schools to create a more transparent and equitable funding formula.
- Enhance and expand the work of regional educational service centers to more extensively collaborate with boards of education, chamber of commerce and teachers.
- Give priority to community—college affordability & strengthen their community college links to high school programs across the State.
- Better recognize that public education is a direct investment in the Connecticut economy.
Transportation and Infrastructure
- Establish and maintain a “lock box” to ensure adequate and sustained funding for necessary transportation projects.
- Prioritize congestion relief when choosing transportation projects to pursue.
- Apply a cost—benefit analysis, test for pursuing transportation improvements.
- Ensure regional councils of government (COGs), local governments, and all stakeholders are at the table for all regional infrastructure projects.
- Better engage the public and create a long—term master transportation plan.
- Provide a clear and streamlined process for consolidation and closing of public schools with inadequate enrollment.
- Provide towns with municipal—revenue diversification options.
- Increase financial incentives for municipal service collaboration and provide predictable state financial support.
- Leverage Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding to incentivize regional education cooperation.
- Develop regional plans and one common set of regional boundaries based on many state studies already completed.
Quality of Life Matters
- Use business incentives for workforce development (rather than the workforce doing it, business should provide the training).
- Collaboration through communication is vital to enhance quality of life; enhance what is already good about Connecticut
- Fund and clean Brownfields for development.
- Renew and develop strategic affordable housing plans.
- Focus on long—term state plan to limit state debt.
- Reform Connecticut’s tax structure.