State of the Connecticut Economy by Scott Whipple

New Britain Herald

FARMINGTON — James Smith, chairman and CEO of Webster Bank, had a mixed message about the state’s economy Thursday at the Annual Economic Conference of Tunxis Community College Foundation.

Speaking at the Farmington Club, Smith reviewed the current state of the Connecticut economy and gave his perspective on how to grow the state’s economy. Smith joined Webster in 1975, was appointed CEO in 1987 and chairman in 1995. He is co-chairman of the American Bankers Council.

“I believe economic growth can accelerate in the state to match that of surrounding states,” Smith said. “Connecticut is the most productive state in the U.S. with the kind of specific technical knowledge that can lead to a higher quality of life.”

James Smith, Webster BankHe added that United Technologies staying in the state, plus the growth of Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, are positive signs. On the other hand, poverty has deepened in Connecticut cities, and the state’s unfunded liabilities are number one in the nation. Because of unfunded liabilities, he said, the state’s investment in an IT system is limited.

“We have chosen not to invest in our infrastructure because of promises made by past politicians,” he said. “We can’t do everything, but we need to make choices that invest in the future.”

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