Economic success in Connecticut is dependent on our ability to have a clear-eyed sense of what our assets are and take advantage of them. It is my belief that Connecticut has many of the assets in place to become the state in which to locate and grow your technology company.
Some of these assets are unique to Connecticut which argues powerfully for us to build on these strengths. For instance, we have a lot of experienced individuals that are interested in “giving back” and helping young companies grow. We have cheaper rents than are found in Boston or Brooklyn, but are close enough that a startup could relocate and grow here while staying in touch with the networks they have developed in more costly locations.
I can go on, but the point is let’s make Connecticut the place that entrepreneurs think of when they want to grow their business. How do we do that?
Clearly we need to nurture a startup infrastructure and CTNext is now well funded and ready to do great things. But, if you want job growth and wealth creation, focusing on and supporting the needs of those companies that want to go from five employees to 50 employees over the next three years is the place to be.
This month, the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) is kicking off its Growth Company Committee and a larger effort to identify the needs of growth companies and devise ways to meet those needs. I am delighted to announce that Andy Greenawalt, founder and builder of two growth companies in Connecticut, has agreed to chair this Committee. His experience and wisdom will be integral with the success of this effort.
Although the actual definition of “growth company” will be one of the first orders of business for the Committee, for the purposes of this piece let me define it simply as a company that has at least $500,000 in revenue and five employees and has aspirations for significant growth.
I think that we have a lot of companies in this category in Connecticut, but like five to six years ago with startups, the support is minimal and disconnected. There are some excellent support mechanisms in place through the Business Council of Fairfield County and the MetroHartford Alliance, as well as a new grant program at CTNext.
The question is what more can be done to really accelerate these companies’ growth in Connecticut? Through our Committee we will answer that question and—I expect—begin to advocate for what is needed in much the same way that CTC successfully advocated for the Innovation Ecosystem that has become the CTNext program.
We already have a built in focus group for this effort in our class of 2016 for the Marcum Tech Top 40. The event we held last month honoring these companies is just further proof that companies can and do thrive in Connecticut. We need to figure out from these Marcum Tech Top 40 winners and others, what it takes and spread that “secret sauce” to others.
On November 17, the CTC will be hosting the 10th annual Innovation Summit at the Connecticut Convention Center. As part of our efforts to help identify and support growth companies, we are planning on having 40 growth companies in the showcase and offering workshops on financing, customer acquisition, and talent acquisition, specifically targeted to growth companies.
So stay tuned, the kick off of the Growth Company Committee and the introduction of growth companies in the Innovation Summit are just the start. More will be happening, but I would love to hear from you about what you think CTC should be focused on as we find ways to support these growth companies.
About the Author
Bruce Carlson is President & CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. Learn more by visiting www.ctc.org.