In 1997, public and private leaders in Connecticut came together to exchange ideas about economic growth in the state’s regions. The group focused on opportunities for sustained economic growth and reducing barriers to that growth. In 1999, the participants formed a new organization, the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century. The Institute, which has a statewide steering committee, is incorporated and has not-for-profit tax exempt status. The Institute provides continuing opportunities to discuss regional opportunities and issues.
In 1999, the Institute released a significant study by the firm of Michael Gallis & Associates, Inc. entitled Connecticut: Strategic Economic Framework. The study defines the real-life economic markets and movement of people, goods, and ideas in the region, the nation, and the world. About 8,000 copies of the study were distributed to public policy leaders and elected officials, triggering significant interest and discussion.
The analysis in the Gallis study serves as a means for Connecticut residents to:
- Secure a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in other regions
- Develop a stronger network among private and public sector leaders and, as a result, a leadership structure effective in keeping this region competitive
- Discuss issues of inter-regional scope and the opportunities to strengthen the state and each of its regions as premier places to live, visit and work
The Institute led a statewide review of issues in transportation and logistics, based on the Gallis study. Three Institute forums on transportation issues, along with co-sponsorship of the legislature’s “Transportation Summit,” led directly to the creation of the Transportation Strategy Board in 2001. The Gallis study continues to provide public and private sector leaders with a conceptual framework with which to undertake strategic planning and build our economic future.
In 2003, the Steering Committee of the Institute turned to another aspect of the Gallis study, the link between Connecticut’s future growth and responsible land use, in order to draw connections between economic development, state and local planning, the trend toward sprawl, and preserving our quality of life. Public forums on “Smart Growth, Sprawl, and the Shape of Things to Come” dealt with land use issues and modern planning tools to strengthen Connecticut’s ability to shape its future. The Institute published a report with recommendations tying together land use and economic vitality.
In 2007, the Institute focused on the economic well being of Connecticut’s cities, with an emphasis on strengthening them as good places to live and work. That report, Economic Vitality & Competitive Cities, identifies key features of successful cities and strategies for making all Connecticut communities attractive and productive, and is intended to lead to state and local actions to enhance the state’s overall competitiveness.
More recently, the Institute has tracked the state’s continuing battle to wrestle with the growing fiscal and economic crisis and is reviewing areas of state spending and evaluating alternative approaches to program delivery that could result in significant savings. The initiative, called Framework for Connecticut’s Fiscal Future, will consist of a series of studies – the first of which is entitled Assessment of Connecticut’s Long Term Care System developed by Blum Shapiro. During 2010, the Institute will also examine other potential areas of savings such as elements of the state’s corrections system, program delivery by non-profits, and health and pension costs.