Economic driver steps on the gas

Fairfield County has long been recognized as an economic driver for Connecticut. This month, five municipalities in the county have proposed legislation to rev up that reputation.

Fairfield, Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford and Westport have formed a consortium (The Fairfield Five) whose goal is to jump-start business, transportation, education, and tourism. The genesis of the symbiotic endeavor was the full throttle quest in 2018 to entice Amazon to locate its HQ2 in Stamford, with compelling support of quality of life attributes from the other four municipalities.

HB 6185 — An Act Concerning a Pilot Program for Regional Marketing and Economic Development in Fairfield County — proposes to codify and provide matching funds for another collective effort. The bipartisan legislation has received a public hearing in the Commerce Committee and is co-sponsored by the General Assembly delegations in the five municipalities.

The regional paradigm produced could be adapted and expanded state-wide. Basic structural considerations to be addressed are: lower and predictable taxes; streamlined permitting processes; an available and educated workforce; and an environment that encourages startups and small businesses. The Fairfield Five are positioned well as a cluster in the economic development areas of technology, cyber security, medicine, entertainment, finance, education, and hospitality.

Existing ancillary amenities are: diverse natural beauty; restaurants, vibrant venues for socializing, arts and culture; proximity to urban centers, including New York City; a robust education system and strong network of public and private institutions of higher learning; recreation and sports; and a variety of housing options — both type and price.

The economic engine potential of The Fairfield Five is exponential, and the pilot program (HB 6185) certainly merits a test drive.

Livvy Floren is the state representative in the 149th district, which includes parts of Greenwich and Stamford.