OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING THE IDENTIFICATION OF EMERGING ECONOMIC TRENDS.
This bill establishes a process to continuously analyze economic and business conditions and generate for legislators periodic reports that, among other things, recommend appropriate legislative and programmatic actions. These tasks must be performed by a private research organization selected by the board of CTNext, a subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.
The bill specifies how the organization must perform the tasks. Among other things, it must track developments in the state's major industry sectors and develop contacts and working relationships with business organizations, unions, and academic institutions. When consulting academic institutions, it must assess the extent to which they interact with businesses and develop programs that meet their needs.
The organization must meet with the CTNext board at least quarterly. It must also submit a comprehensive annual report to the board that recommends specific steps to achieve the goals established through the assessment process. The board's chairperson and the organization's lead representative must present the report to the Commerce and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees at a joint hearing, which various state officials must attend. The committees must include the organization's recommendations in the bills they propose during the next regular legislative session.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
The bill requires CTNext's board of directors, after issuing a request for proposals, to select a private research organization and enter into an agreement with it, although the bill does not set a deadline for doing so. (Presumably, the board would use its fund to compensate the organization.) The board must annually specify the organization's scope of work and may change it as it deems necessary or prudent in light of economic trends and developments, as long as these changes do not generate additional costs to the state.
The research organization must continuously advise, guide, and assist the state in short- and long-term strategic economic development planning by:
1. identifying emerging industries that can contribute to the state's long-term economic growth, given the existing and potential strength of the state's workforce, education and research capacity, and mix of existing businesses and industries;
2. suggesting policy changes to support emerging industries and better meet the needs of established ones by bolstering the state's workforce and education and research capacity;
3. periodically and regularly assessing the health of, and the potential strategic threats to, the established industries;
4. forecasting short-term and long-term business trends that could affect new and existing businesses;
5. developing opportunities and business strategies to attract, retain, and develop emerging and mature businesses and industries;
6. accelerating the pace at which the businesses innovate; and
7. periodically assessing the state's economic conditions to (a) identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and (b) develop and promote policy recommendations based on this assessment.
The bill specifies the kinds of things the organization must do to fulfill its statutory purposes, including:
1. tracking and analyzing developments in the state's major industry sectors, including health care and bioscience, financial services, insurance, venture capital, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, digital media and information technology, software development, data analytics, green technologies, and tourism;
2. having expertise in Connecticut economic history and forecasting, technology and technological advancements, strategic business planning and organizational development, investment and finance, the research and development process, and commercializing technology, or consult with experts in these fields;
3. consulting with representatives of (a) public and private employee organizations about the development of the state's workforce and (b) public and independent higher education in the state about developments in their sphere; and
4. developing contacts and working relationships with representatives of the above businesses, organizations, and institutions to be continually up-to-date and informed about emerging trends in their fields.
In consulting with higher education representatives, the organization must examine the institutions' relationships with the state's major industry sectors. It must specifically examine the extent to which:
1. these institutions regularly communicate with businesses in the state's major industry sectors;
2. academic curricula, degree programs, and graduation rates in all the institutions' academic fields align with the workforce and skill needs of the state's major industry sectors; and
3. the institutions are responsive to these sectors' changing needs.
The organization must consider in its economic assessments the information it receives from the representatives of employee organizations and higher education institutions.
RESEARCH AND REPORTING
The bill generally requires the organization to continuously gather and analyze economic information, periodically report its findings and legislative and programmatic recommendations to CTNext's board, and advise it on the status of previously recommended actions.
The organization must report quarterly to the board, updating it on the status of previously recommended legislative and programmatic changes, including whether the agencies implementing these changes are achieving their goals or are expected to do so. The organization must also inform the board about any economic or business problems or issues that could harm the state's major industry sectors.
The organization's fourth quarter report must include the organization's recommendations for legislative and programmatic recommendations and actions aimed at achieving the state's economic development goals.
Lastly, the organization must submit an annual comprehensive report to the board that includes the information it gathered throughout the year. (The bill does not specify a date by which the organization must start reporting.)
The CTNext board and the organization's lead representative must present the organization's annual report to a joint hearing of the Commerce and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees. Before the hearing, the lead representative must provide the committees' chairpersons with a list of the department heads, chief executive officers, presidents, deans, and comparable officials whose (1) state agencies or institutions are included in the report and (2) testimony the representative believes would be helpful. The committee chairpersons may also require representatives from other state agencies and institutions to testify at the hearing.
At the hearing, Commerce and Finance committee members may question any individual who appears before them, including the lead representative and the chairperson of the CTNext board. The lead representative and the chairperson may also question the people testifying at the hearing.
The bill requires the Commerce and Finance committees to include the organization's recommendations in the bills they propose during the subsequent regular legislative session.
Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee