Malloy offered incentives to Aetna

May 31, 2017 GMT

HARTFORD — Since its failure this year to acquire the Humana Company in a record multi-billion-dollar deal, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has praised Aetna Inc. for the insurance giant’s commitment to Connecticut, and offered support to the company and its 6,000 state employees.

Earlier this month, Malloy proposed a package of financial assistance to assure that the headquarters of the 164-year-old company remain on Farmington Avenue, a short walk from the state Capitol, according to letters Malloy has recently written to Mark T. Bertolini, chairman and CEO of Aetna, which had $60.3 billion in revenues last year.

Still, the company is apparently planning on moving at least 200 top executives, although it was mum Wednesday on actual details.

“We are in negotiations with several states regarding a headquarters relocation, with the goal of broadening our access to innovation and the talent that will fill knowledge economy-type positions,” said T.J. Crawford, senior director of media relations at Aetna. “We remain committed to our Connecticut-based employees and the Hartford campus, and hope to have a final resolution by early summer.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said that after several conversations with the insurance company’s executives, he believes that Aetna “decided a long time ago” to relocate some of its staff out of state, but he’s optimistic that many employees will remain, along with a high-profile presence in a city where it recently joined with other major companies to commit to $50 million for the city over the next five years.

“But losing Aetna’s flag is a hard blow for the state and for the greater Hartford region,” Bronin said. “As a state, we need to act boldly to change the things that need to change. Across the country, companies are locating in places where they can recruit top talent. We don’t have to be New York or Boston to be competitive, but we have to recognize that strong, fiscally-sound, culturally-vibrant metropolitan areas are key to economic growth.”

Malloy’s March and May letters to Bertolini indicated as much, calling Aetna - the smaller of the three insurance companies led by The Travelers Companies and The Hartford - an “iconic presence” in the city. In a May 15 letter, Malloy pointed to major improvements, including new rail service in 2018; the new UConn downtown campus; and as many as 2,000 new apartments downtown.

Malloy’s economic development chief detailed a variety of initiatives that will benefit the city, including a long-term plan to unsnag traffic in the Interstate-91 and I-84 intersection, including a probklematic underground crossover called the viaduct. Developing new workers; strengthening Hartford and providing direct incentives were also mentioned by Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz on Wednesday that scheduled improvements to the downtown XL Center also enhance the quality of life in Hartford.

kdixon@ctpost.com; Twitter: @KenDixonCT

Aetna a major presence

Founded in 1853

6,000 employees in Connecticut

49,500 workers nationwide

Revenues last year were $60.3 billion

*Source, state Department of Insurance