February 15, 2006
COMPARISON OF CONNECTICUT AND TENNESSEE BUSINESS SERVICES
By: Natalie Wagner, Legislative Fellow
You asked for a comparison of how Connecticut and Tennessee help individuals and businesses access the information and services they need to start, operate, relocate, or expand a business.
Connecticut and Tennessee both operate one-stop centers where individuals and business owners can find much of the information they need to start, operate, relocate, or expand a business. Both centers help businesses clarify their needs and identify the public and private agencies that can address those needs. Tennessee's centers also contact agencies on a business' behalf if the business has 25 or more employees. They also follow up to ensure that the business' needs have been met.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's (DECD) Business Services Division (BSD) operates three regional one-stop business assistance centers for businesses that want to start-up, expand, or move to Tennessee, according to business specialist Ron Miles. BSD helps businesses with 25 or more employees file appropriate certificates; obtain necessary licensures; procure incentives; comply with federal, state, and county regulations; and arrange for necessary utilities. Its job development specialists help businesses assess their work force needs and arrange for the appropriate training and technical assistance provided by other public and private agencies. The specialist follows up with the business and the agencies to ensure that the business' needs were met or learn if further assistance is required, according to Assistant Commissioner of Business Development Paul LeGrange.
DECD's Business Enterprise Resource Office (BERO) assists businesses with 25 or fewer employees. It outlines the things a business must do to address its needs and identifies the organizations it must contact in order to do so. In addition, BERO matches small businesses with larger businesses that could use their service or product, LaGrange explained.
The nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) operates the Connecticut Business Response Center (BRC). BRC's specialists respond to inquiries made through CERC's business hotline (1-800-392-2122) and the CT-Clic and You-Belong-In-CT websites. They (1) provide referrals, (2) identify relevant government and private resources, (3) explain business registration and certification requirements, (4) supply forms and help businesses complete them, (4) locate possible business sites, and in some cases (5) arrange for a representative from the Department of Economic and Community Development to contact the business. BRC may also arrange for a business to be contacted by a representative of the quasi-public Connecticut Development Authority or Connecticut Innovations, Inc.
BRC also mails a customized packet of information to a business within one business day of receiving an initial request. The packet contains information that addresses the business' specific needs, according to BRC's director Connie Maffeo. For example, a packet sent to someone who wants to start a business often includes a brochure outlining the process of starting a business, information on licensing and registration, legal forms, agency resource guides, the Small Business Assistance financial resource guide, and site and technical assistance information. Packets sent to out-of-state businesses looking to move to Connecticut often include information on economic development incentives, how the state can help them find a site, and where to find technical assistance.