Location:
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; REGIONAL PLANNING;

OLR Research Report


SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS

By: John Rappa, Chief Analyst


ISSUE
This report identifies the types of economic development organizations operating in 63 selected eastern Connecticut municipalities, summarizes studies and plans on the region's economy, and offers models to increase inter-organization coordination.

SUMMARY

At least 13 types of public and private organizations provide different types of economic development assistance in the 63 selected eastern Connecticut municipalities (see Attachment 1). They include local chambers of commerce, nonprofit economic development corporations, and state and federal economic development agencies. The assistance they provide includes analyzing local and regional economic trends, marketing and promoting local and regional assets, and providing technical and financial assistance to businesses.

Most of the municipalities have local economic development commissions; few have economic development departments, local nonprofit economic development corporations, or local chambers of commerce. Some municipal websites identify the first selectman, the town planner, or other official as the economic development coordinator. Most of the other organizations operate at the regional level, offering services to businesses in several municipalities. The distribution of local and regional organizations appears to reflect the fact that most of the selected municipalities have relatively small populations and relatively large land areas (see Attachment 2).

State-commissioned studies examining southeastern Connecticut's economic strengths and vulnerabilities stress the need to diversify the region's economy by marketing its assets, strengthening regional cooperation, and stimulating and supporting business startups.

These studies generally recommend that the region's economic development organizations make it easier for entrepreneurs and small business owners to identify and access their services. The organizations can do this by creating a group of “broker-agents” located throughout the region to help businesses assess their needs, identify the organizations that can address them, and help the businesses access the organizations' services.

Alternatively, the organizations can organize themselves as a network in which each member functions as a broker-agent for the entire network. Network members would share information about their services, assess businesses seeking assistance based on a standard assessment tool, and help the businesses access the network member that can best address their needs. Besides a standard assessment tool, the network's other elements might include, an electronic database of economic development services and contacts and a procedure for referring businesses to other network members.

EASTERN CONNECTICUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS

Selected Municipalities

The number and type of economic development organizations serving a region partly depend on its relative economic development needs and its capacity to address them. The 63 selected eastern Connecticut municipalities are home to over 700,000 people (about 20% of the state's population) and comprise almost 2,000 square miles (roughly, 36% of the state's land area). Their average population is 11,341, but 37 municipalities (58%) have fewer than 10,000 people. Their average land area is 31.5 square miles, with 33 municipalities (52%) each covering over 30 square miles. Attachment 2 provides the total population and square miles for each selected municipality, grouped by planning region. Table 1 totals this data by planning region.

Table 1: Population, Square Miles, and Municipalities in Selected Eastern Connecticut Planning Regions

Planning Region

Total Municipalities

Selected Municipalities

Total Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Municipalities

Capitol Region

38

10

138,514

346.55

Columbia, Coventry, Ellington, Hebron, Mansfield, Marlborough, Stafford, Tolland, Vernon, and Willington

South Central

15

4

83,077

129.87

Branford, Guilford, Madison, and North Branford

Lower CT Valley

17

14

109,607

358.03

Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook

Southeastern CT

19

19

286,711

598.06

Bozrah, Colchester, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Stonington, Waterford, and Windham

Northeast

16

16

96,617

553.70

Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Eastford, Hampton, Killingly, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, Scotland, Sterling, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, and Woodstock

Total

105

63

714,526

1,986.2

Not Applicable

Types of Economic Development Organizations

Public and private organizations provide economic development assistance ranging from economic analysis (e.g., nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center) to low-interest business loans and technical assistance (e.g., federal Small Business Administration). Some serve businesses in specified geographic areas. These organizations include local and regional nonprofit economic development corporations. Table 2 identifies the types of economic development organizations that operate in the 63-municipality region and the services they provide.

Table 2: Types of Economic Development Organizations in Eastern Connecticut and their Services

Organization or Organizational Type

Sector

Geographic Scope

Services

Chambers of Commerce

Nonprofit

Local, Regional, and Statewide

Advocacy

Information

Marketing and Promotion

Technical Assistance

Community Economic Development Fund

Nonprofit

Targeted Municipalities Statewide

Financial Assistance

Community Investment Fund

Nonprofit

Statewide

Financial Assistance

Connecticut Economic Resource Center

Nonprofit

Statewide

Analysis

Information and Referral

Connecticut Innovations

Government (State)

Venture and Financial Capital

Statewide

Connecticut Main Street Center *

Nonprofit

Statewide Membership Organization

Technical Assistance

Connecticut Small Business Development Centers

Government (Federal-State)

Statewide

Technical Assistance

Councils of Government

Government

Regional

Planning

Department of Economic and Community Development

Government (State)

Statewide

Financial Assistance

Research

Economic Development Commissions

Government (Municipal)

Local

Promotion

Economic Analysis

Nonprofit Economic Development Corporations

Nonprofit

Regional

Financial and Technical Assistance

Small Business Administration

Government (Federal)

Statewide

Financial and Technical Assistance

Regional Tourism Districts

Nonprofit

Regional

Marketing and Promotion

* Connecticut Main Street Center's current members include the following southeastern Connecticut municipalities:

Mansfield/Storrs

Putnam

Vernon/Rockville

Westbrook

Willimantic (Windham)

Organizations Operating in the Region

As Table 3 shows, local economic development commissions (EDCs) and regional councils of government (COGs), regional chambers of commerce, and regional economic development corporations are the region's most common types of economic development organizations.

Table 3: Type and Number of Economic Development Organizations Operating in Selected Municipalities by Planning Region

Region

Municipal

Local Nonprofit

Regional

EDC.

Eco Dev. Dept.

Chamber or Bus. Assoc.

Dev. Corp.

Main St.

COG

Chamber

Nonprofit Dev. Corp.

Reg. Tourism Districts

Other

Capitol

10

0

2

3

2

1

2

1 serving 4 towns

1, serving 3 towns

1, serving 5 towns

2 serving 4 towns

South Central

4

1

4

0

0

1

0

1 serving 4 towns

0

0

Lower CT Valley

11

0

4

0

1

1

1

1 serving 1 town

1, serving 9 towns

1, serving 2 towns

1 serving 11 towns

Southeastern

13

4

2

2

1

1

3 serving different groups of overlapping towns

1 serving 17 towns and 1 serving 2 towns

1, serving 19 towns

1 serving 8 towns

Northeast

11

2

0

0

1

1

5 serving different groups of overlapping towns

1 serving 14 towns

1, serving 16 towns

1 serving 11 towns

EDCs are municipal advisory bodies consisting of five to 15 members. Their duties include researching economic conditions and trends and advising local officials about how to improve the economy (CGS 7-136). They operate in 49 of the region's municipalities (77%). Relatively few of the region's municipalities have economic development departments or locally based chambers of commerce and nonprofit economic development corporations.

Most of the region's economic development organizations operate at a regional level. COGs, which operate in each of the state's nine planning regions, advise their municipal members about a wide range of social and economic trends. The municipalities' chief elected officials comprise each council, whose scope includes economic development, tourism promotion, housing, vocational training and development, and transportation.

Most of the region's nonprofit economic development corporations also operate at a regional level, providing financial and technical assistance to relocating or expanding businesses. The Northeast Economic Alliance and the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region Corporation assist businesses in different state planning regions. Regional chambers of commerce serve most of the businesses in the selected municipalities by providing information, technical assistance, and advocacy services. Several chambers in the southeastern and northeast planning regions serve businesses in overlapping groups of municipalities.

Table 4 lists the regional organizations operating in the selected planning regions.

Table 4: Number of Regional Economic Development Organizations Operating in Eastern Connecticut by State Planning Region

Regional

Organization

Region

Capitol

South Central

Lower Connecticut Valley

Southeastern

Northeastern

Capitol Region Council of Governments

10

       

Route 6 Regional Economic Development Council

2

       

Tolland County Chamber of Commerce

9

     

2

South Central Regional Council of Governments

 

4

     

South Central Connecticut Regional Economic Development Corporation

 

4

     

Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments

   

14

   

Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce

   

9

   

Middlesex County Revitalization Commission

   

11

   

Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region Corporation

   

1

17

 

Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments

     

19

 

Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce

     

18

15

Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce

     

10

1

Table 4 (Cont.)

Regional

Organization

Region

Capitol

South Central

Lower Connecticut Valley

Southeastern

Northeastern

Windham Region Chamber of Commerce

4

   

2

3

Northeast Connecticut Council of Governments

       

15

Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce

       

9

Central Regional Tourism District, Connecticut River Valley

5

 

9

19

 

Eastern Regional Tourism District

3

 

2

 

16

Attachments 3-7 identify the types and numbers of local, regional, and statewide economic development organizations operating in each of the selected municipalities sorted by planning region.

STATE INITIATIVES IN SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT

Several state-commissioned studies since 2005 have focused on southeastern Connecticut's economy, identifying its strengths and major challenges.

Sub Base-Electric Boat Economic Impact

A May 2005 Department of Economic and Community Development study found that the Groton Naval Sub Base and Electric Boat together contributed about $3.3 billion to the Connecticut's gross state product and created over 31,500 direct and indirect jobs (The Contribution of the Groton Naval Sub Base and the Electric Boat Company to the Economics of Connecticut and Southeastern Connecticut).

In November 2005, after the U.S. Defense Department removed the sub base from the list of proposed military base closings, Governor Rell created a commission to recommend how to make the sub base less vulnerable to closure efforts while strengthening the region's economy. The commission's December 2005 report identified the region's economic strengths, but cautioned:

...despite its merits, the region faces imminent and growing challenges to its economic future. Threats abound from cuts in national defense to growing reliance on lower-income wage gaming and tourism industries. The area is vulnerable to the vagaries of global employers and a rapidly changing workforce, some of the most skilled of whom are leaving the area for a wider array of job opportunities or more affordable housing (Governor's Commission for the Economic Diversification of Southeastern Connecticut: Final Report).

Consequently, the commission recommended that the region develop marketing plans and strengthen regional cooperation.

Bioscience

Bioscience is southeastern Connecticut's other economic pillar, and its impact was felt in 2011 when Groton-based Pfizer announced it would lay off about 25% of its workforce. In 2013, the legislature required the quasi-public Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (CII) to prepare a plan to help the region develop new bioscience and pharmaceutical businesses (PA 13-247, 72). CII retained Aria Management Consulting, LLC and Connecticut United for Research Excellence to prepare the plan.

The December 2013 plan recommended steps to retain “highly educated, non-retired scientists” before they left the region to find jobs in their fields (Southeastern CT Bioscience Capabilities Assessment Report). Like the earlier studies that focused on the region's defense sector, the plan cited “the region's lack of aggressive marketing about its positives,” plus “the lack of an avenue for well-rooted substantially-talented individuals to systematically connect, learn about how to grow businesses and how to access the CT innovation ecosystem” as significant problems.

Although the region has services to address these needs, they are “diffuse.” Entrepreneurs for example, need different types of services, including preparing business plans, finding workspace, and securing financing. These services are often provided by different organizations, thus requiring entrepreneurs themselves to identify the appropriate organizations and coordinate the delivery of the services.

To address this challenge, the plan recommended:

Focused efforts supported by the state in promoting interaction of cross discipline talent; accessing experienced entrepreneurs to channel good ideas into companies; establishing an affordable place to incubate early concepts/ideas, integrating the region more visibly to statewide efforts, and promoting increased awareness of resources.

SERVICE COORDINATION

Context

The studies and plans seem to agree that Southeastern Connecticut's strength in the defense and pharmaceuticals sectors also makes it vulnerable to forces beyond the region's control, including defense cuts and pharmaceutical industry restructuring. By diversifying the economy before these forces play out, the studies suggested, the region could simultaneously promote economic growth and cushion their impact.

One way the region could diversify the economy is by helping entrepreneurs and small businesses. But as Figure 1 shows, the number and type of economic development organizations could pose a barrier to entrepreneurs and small business operators who lack the time needed to identify, access, and coordinate services provided by multiple providers.

Figure 1: Business Assistance Gap




Broker-Agent Model

A broker-agent model helps different organizations coordinate their services by treating them as components of an integrated service delivery system. The model does this by using broker-agents to assess customer needs and identify the organizations that can best address those needs. Figure 2 shows how the agents act as go-between customers and service organizations.

Figure 2: Broker-Agent System













Network Model

The network model is a variation of the broker-agent model. Instead of relying on one or more groups of broker-agents to screen and refer customers, each network member performs these tasks for the entire network. Network members can perform these tasks because they know each member's services and the requirements a business must meet to receive them.

For example, a small business development center specializing in helping entrepreneurs prepare business plans also assesses the needs of a business seeking financial assistance. The center does so by using a standard assessment tool and accessing a database of local, regional, and state service providers. The center uses this information to help the business identify and access the network member that provides working capital loans. One advantage of the network model is that the members do not have to hire and train separate staff broker-agents.

The broker-agent and network models require organizations to share information about their products and services and use standard procedures to assess customers and refer them to the appropriate organizations. The models might require an inter-organization group to monitor and evaluate the organizations' performance.

JR:bs


Attachment 1: Selected Eastern Connecticut Municipalities, by Planning Region

Attachment 2: Population and Square Miles for Selected Southeastern Connecticut Municipalities, by Planning Regions

Capitol Region

Selected Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Columbia

5,485

21.37

Coventry

12,435

37.57

Ellington

15,602

34.06

Hebron

9,686

36.94

Mansfield

26,543

44.60

Marlborough

6,404

23.35

Stafford

12,087

58.04

Tolland

15,052

39.63

Vernon

29,179

17.70

Willington

6,041

33.29

Regional Totals

138,514

346.55

South Central Planning Region

Selected Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Branford

28,026

21.84

Guilford

22,375

47.12

Madison

18,269

36.15

North Branford

14,407

24.76

Regional Totals

83,077

129.87

Lower Connecticut Valley Planning Region

Selected Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Chester

3,994

16.05

Clinton

13,260

16.21

Deep River

4,629

13.51

Durham

7,388

23.66

East Haddam

9,126

54.25

East Hampton

12,959

35.65

Essex

6,683

10.40

Haddam

8,346

43.94

Killingworth

6,525

35.33

Lyme

2,406

31.84

Old Lyme

7,603

23.02

Old Saybrook

10,242

15.04

Portland

9,508

23.35

Westbrook

6,938

15.78

Totals

109,607

358.03

Attachment 2 (Cont.)

Southeastern Connecticut Planning Region

Selected Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Bozrah

2,627

19.97

Colchester

16,068

48.98

East Lyme

19,159

34.00

Franklin

1,922

19.49

Griswold

11,951

34.71

Groton—Town & City

40,115

31.03

Lebanon

7,308

54.10

Ledyard

15,051

38.22

Lisbon

4,338

16.29

Montville

19,571

41.95

New London

27,620

5.62

North Stonington

5,297

54.25

Norwich

40,493

28.06

Preston

4,726

30.82

Salem

4,151

28.92

Sprague

2,984

13.25

Stonington

18,545

38.66

Waterford

19,517

32.77

Windham

25,268

26.97

Regional Totals

286,711

598.06

Northeast Connecticut Planning Region

Selected Municipalities

Total Population

Square Miles

Ashford

4,317

38.76

Brooklyn

8,210

29.09

Canterbury

5,132

39.95

Chaplin

2,305

19.43

Eastford

1,749

28.92

Hampton

1,863

25.09

Killingly

17,370

48.31

Plainfield

15,405

42.36

Pomfret

4,247

40.33

Putnam

9,584

20.30

Scotland

1,726

18.63

Sterling

3,830

27.22

Thompson

9,458

46.90

Union

854

28.80

Voluntown

2,603

38.96

Woodstock

7,964

60.65

Totals

96,617

553.70

Southeastern Connecticut Totals

714,526

(20% of state population)

1,986.21

(36% of state square miles)

Attachment 3: Economic Development Organizations Operating in Selected Capitol Region Municipalities

Municipality

Municipal

Local Nonprofit Business Association

Regional Organizations

EDC

Dept.

Chamber

Bus. Assoc.

Eco. Dev. Corp.

COG

Chamber

Eco. Dev. Corp.

Other

Entity

Columbia

X

       

X

X

X

X

Coventry

X

       

X

X

X

X

Ellington

X

       

X

X

 

X

Hebron

X

       

X

X

 

X

Mansfield

X

     

X

X

X

X

X

Marlborough

X

   

X

 

X

   

X

Stafford

X

       

X

X

   

Tolland

X

     

X

X

X

 

X

Vernon

X

     

X

X

X

 

X

Willington

X

       

X

X

X

X

Attachment 4: Economic Development Organizations Operating in Selected South Central Planning Region Municipalities

Municipality

Municipal

Local Nonprofit Business Association

Regional Organizations

EDC

Dept.

Chamber

Bus. Assoc.

Eco. Dev. Corp.

COG

Chamber

Eco. Dev. Corp.

Other

Entity

Branford

X

X

X

   

X

 

X

 

Guilford

X

 

X

   

X

 

X

 

Madison

X

 

X

   

X

 

X

 

North Branford

X

 

X

   

X

 

X

Attachment 5: Economic Development Organizations Operating in Selected Lower Connecticut Valley Planning Region Municipalities

Municipality

Municipal

Local Nonprofit Business Association

Regional Organizations

EDC

Dept.

Chamber

Bus. Assoc.

Eco. Dev. Corp.

COG

Chamber

Eco. Dev. Corp.

Other

Entity

Chester

X

       

X

X

 

X

Clinton

X

 

X

   

X

   

X

Deep River

X

       

X

X

 

X

Durham

X

       

X

X

 

X

East Haddam

X

       

X

X

 

X

East Hampton

X

       

X

X

 

X

Essex

X

       

X

X

 

X

Haddam

X

       

X

X

 

X

Killingworth

   

X

   

X

   

X

Lyme

   

X

   

X

 

X

X

Old Lyme

X

 

X

   

X

   

X

Old Saybrook

X

 

X

X

 

X

   

X

Portland

X

       

X

X

 

X

Westbrook

         

X

X

 

X

Attachment 6: Economic Development Organizations Operating in Southeastern Planning Region Municipalities

Municipality

Municipal

Local Nonprofit Business Association

Regional Organizations

EDC

Dept.

Chamber

Bus. Assoc.

Eco. Dev. Corp.

COG

Chamber

Eco. Dev. Corp.

Other

Entity

Bozrah

         

X

X

X

X

Colchester

X

   

X

 

X

X

X

X

East Lyme

X

       

X

X

X

X

Franklin

         

X

X

X

X

Griswold

X

       

X

X

X

X

Groton

X

X

 

X

 

X

X

X

X

Lebanon

X

       

X

X

X

X

Ledyard

X

       

X

X

X

X

Lisbon

         

X

X

X

X

Montville

X

       

X

X

X

X

New London

 

X

   

X

X

X

X

X

North Stonington

X

       

X

X

X

X

Norwich

       

X

X

X

X

X

Preston

 

X

     

X

X

X

X

Salem

X

       

X

X

X

X

Sprague

X

       

X

X

X

X

Stonington

X

       

X

X

X

X

Waterford

X

       

X

X

X

X

Windham

X

X

     

X

X

X

X

Attachment 7: Economic Development Organizations Operating in Northeastern Planning Region Municipalities

Municipality

Municipal

Local Nonprofit Business Association

Regional Organizations

EDC

Dept.

Chamber

Bus. Assoc.

Eco. Dev. Corp.

COG

Chamber

Eco. Dev. Corp.

Other

Entity

Ashford

X

       

X

X

X

X

Brooklyn

X

       

X

X

X

X

Canterbury

X

       

X

X

X

X

Chaplin

         

X

X

X

X

Eastford

         

X

X

X

X

Hampton

         

X

X

X

X

Killingly

X

X

     

X

X

X

X

Plainfield

X

       

X

X

X

X

Pomfret

X

       

X

X

X

X

Putnam

X

X

     

X

X

X

X

Scotland

         

X

X

X

X

Sterling

X

       

X

X

X

X

Thompson

X

       

X

X

X

X

Union

         

X

X

X

X

Voluntown

X

       

X

X

 

X

Woodstock

X

       

X

X

X

X