During a networking event for members of the design and construction industry at the Wednesday night, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy discussed the importance of education reform in helping to develop the state economy.
The 2012 Joint Dinner of the Design and Construction Industry, held annually, was a chance for people in the fields of construction and design to network and have a drink together when they don’t often have the ability to do either.
“We believe this (event) makes the industry better,” said event organizer Diane Harp Jones of the American Institute of Architects.
The design and construction industry creates between 12 and 13.5 percent of the gross economic activity in the state, but the field has been decimated by the economy, Jones said.
“Frankly we want to remind him (Malloy) how important this industry is to the state," she said.
Projects that were put out to bid four years ago are coming 20 percent below bid, Jones said.
“It is a buyer’s market. It is a wonderful time to be taking advantage of some of these wonderful opportunities,” she said.
Last year, Malloy focused his speech on how he was going to handle a . Since then, Malloy said he has raised revenue and cut expenses with the state gaining 9,400 private sector jobs, with many of them coming in the final three months of 2011. On Wednesday, he focused his lecture on long-term solutions for Connecticut, which included .
“What we have to do is get any from dwelling on the short term,” he said. “And now we step back and take a point of view of what are we doing in the long term. To put it in another way, if we are not putting out a better product, there is not a reason to come to Connecticut any longer.”
In Connecticut, in four years. Connecticut used to be number one in the country in high school graduation rates, however it has dropped to 12th, lagging behind Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“This is a serious problem,” Malloy said. The decreased graduation rate has led to a lack of qualified skill workers in the state, he added.
Malloy’s education reform plan focuses on early childhood education, particularly in urban areas. He said he believes if the state fixes its education system, it could have a 100 percent employment rate.
Malloy is developing a network where the 25 lowest-performing schools are controlled by the state. He added the majority of these schools have been this low for the past five years, while the state has poured more money into them without having a plan to turn them around.
“We are going to hold people more accountable,” he said, adding that teachers, 85 percent of whom are taught in the state, will be evaluated throughout their entire career.
One member of the construction and design field asked Malloy how he was going to encourage development and redevelopment in a state that does not always support smart growth.
"We should be encouraging development in those communities that want development and we should stop arguing with communities that don't want it," Malloy, who stated he was pro-development, said.
He added some of the developers’ frustrations were caused because they went into communities that did not want development.
In August, Malloy had the state invest $900 million in the bioscience program at the University of Connecticut. He expected that the investment would take several years before showing dividends. However, when Florida was unable to finalize a deal with , Connecticut was able to move quickly and snatch them.
“In the midst of a difficult time, we made a major capital improvement into a research institution,” Malloy said. “We reaped the benefits from that investment.“
The state , but it will create 8,000 construction jobs and about 22,000 jobs overall. Malloy said the project would allow Connecticut to recover its strength in bioscience.
“It will allow us to have an institution on equal footing to Yale,” he said. “It will put us in a far better position to be in the lead in testing drugs, testing therapies and connecting geoscience to personal medicine, which is the next big thing in science.”