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Malloy touts business-supplier growth during Stamford visit

May 10, 2017 GMT

STAMFORD — Small firms can prosper by working with large companies, and state officials are committed to building relationships among those organizations, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a speech Wednesday.

Malloy discussed his administration’s work to support small businesses during a Business Council of Fairfield County event at the Marriott hotel focused on the IBM-led Supplier Connection program. The initiative links large corporations with suppliers that have less than $50 million in revenues and fewer than 500 employees.

Eighteen months ago, Malloy announced Connecticut would become the first state to partner with IBM on the venture. Supplier Connection’s list of participating companies now includes Stamford’s Pitney Bowes, Purdue Pharma, Synchrony Financial, Nestlé Waters North America and United Rentals.

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“What we are trying to do is make the states and communities where jobs are present, where large employers are present, have that grow beyond their presence — to make sure that the entire state or the entire community or the entire region benefits,” said Malloy, who was Stamford’s mayor from 1995 to 2009.

Suppliers are benefiting from collaborating with major manufacturers like Stratford-based Sikorsky and Groton-based Electric Boat, he said. He pointed to terms of Sikorsky’s plan to make heavy-lift helicopters in the state that he said would require the company to grow Connecticut-based purchases in its supply chain from about $350 million to more than $700 million during the production of those aircraft.

Malloy asserted that his administration has encouraged large and small firms to forge new relationships through a number of programs. In his six years as governor, the state has invested in and helped to procure new equipment for about 2,300 firms, compared with such assistance for 200 businesses in the previous six years, he said.

The governor also cited the impact of other initiatives such as expanding advanced-manufacturing training and increases in enrollment at the University of Connecticut’s engineering school.

“You’ll put all these things together — getting our economic house in order, making appropriate investments in education, making appropriate investments alongside companies, introducing companies to one another and, quite frankly, building in an understanding of why it’s important to build supply locally, then you talk about a very different economy,” Malloy said. “Not overnight, but over time.”

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About 95 percent of firms statewide and in Fairfield County have fewer than 50 employees, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Labor.

Asked by Business Council President and CEO Chris Bruhl about his plans after leaving the governor’s mansion in January 2019, Malloy declined to specify projects or positions he would want to take on but said he would be looking for the “next big challenge in my life.”

Malloy closed his remarks by taking a lighthearted jab at one of his longtime antagonists, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“Some people are here from New Jersey,” he said. “Do you have this (Supplier Connection) program in New Jersey — is it currently existing? No? Another thing I beat Christie at — good. Thank you very much.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott