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Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. helped facilitate  input and gather ideas generated from the first-ever Shoreline Economic Strategic Planning Summit on March 28. The summit, held in Branford, drew 150 business leaders from shoreline towns including Branford, Guilford, Madison.

Photo Courtesy Office of Sen. Kennedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. helped facilitate input and gather ideas generated from the first-ever Shoreline Economic Strategic Planning Summit on March 28. The summit, held in Branford, drew 150 business leaders from shoreline towns including Branford, Guilford, Madison. (Photo courtesy Office of Sen. Kennedy )

Breweries to Biotech: Shoreline Economic Summit Plans for Growth

Published March 30, 2016 • Last Updated 09:48 a.m., March 30, 2016

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On March 28, Branford economic success story Stony Creek Brewery was the setting for the first Shoreline Economic Strategic Planning Summit, which gathered over 150 business leaders from numerous area towns to discuss what's working, what's needed and brainstorm on ideas that will kickstart burgeoning economic drivers and increase job opportunities.

From biotechs to breweries, business owners talked about what is succeeding in this area and how that growth can be supported at the government level. They also discussed better ways to develop skilled workers to take advantage of job opportunities. The leaders also put together a wish list of ways the state can support the growth. 

The summit was hosted by State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. (D, District 12 - Branford, North Branford, Madison, Guilford, Killingworth, Durham) with the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (Branford - Guilford). The following press release was issued from Kennedy's office March 30:

Press Release: BRANFORD, CT - Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr, recently hosted the first-ever Shoreline Economic Strategic Planning Summit in concert with the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce. Business leaders from the shoreline region attended to share their input and ideas about the key drivers of economic activity and job growth in the area.

"The success of our shoreline communities and the success of Connecticut are dependent on a strong, growing business community," said Senator Kennedy. "This economic summit was an important step toward continued cooperation between business leaders, community organizations and elected officials. Connecticut is in need of new ideas to build our economy, and there is no group more equipped to generate those new ideas than the small business owners who are the spark plugs of Connecticut's economy."

Economic development officials from Madison, Guilford, Branford and other towns joined representatives from over 150 local businesses to participate in the summit. Businesses highlighted the shoreline's strategic assets and most promising business development opportunities. They spoke with Senator Kennedy and other government officials on the most actionable ways that government and business can work together to improve the shoreline's competiveness.

Ginny Kozlowski of REX Development began the summit by delivering a regional economic update. This presentation highlighted several industries that have become dominant in the shoreline region. Medical and life sciences careers now employ 50% of the people in Senator Kennedy's district. Kozlowski also highlighted the importance of investment in transportation infrastructure as one of the most important economic priorities of the shoreline area.

Local businesses owners organized into three panels and made presentations to the Summit. The first panel discussed business challenges and opportunities. They talked about what kind of businesses are succeeding, and how government can play a role in capital formation and job growth. Panelists spoke on what government policies and incentives work well and what regulations may be obstacles to business success. The second panel focused on developing the local workforce, highlighting the need for skilled workers and how apprenticeships and vocational training programs help bolster the state economy. Finally, the third group of panelists spoke about how Connecticut can enhance real estate and infrastructure assets. These panelists led a discussion on how the state can remove major obstacles to development and capitalize on the proximity of New Haven and New York City.

Following the panels, Senator Kennedy distributed a survey to all attendees of the Economic Summit. This feedback will be used by Kennedy and other legislators to identify the priority steps they need to make. It will also help community groups and other businesses associations work to promote economic growth in the region.

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