Vowing to boost the state’s status as Insurance Capital of the World, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell is creating a special office within her Department of Economic and Community Development dedicated to retaining, creating and attracting insurance and financial services jobs.
The announcement of the new department followed an “Insurance Summit” held between Rell, executives of the insurance and financial services industry, DECD and other state agency officials, and community leaders.
“I asked for this summit for the express purpose of hearing from industry leaders,” Rell said. “I wanted to know the market issues they face and how the state of Connecticut can help them compete in the global marketplace so we can retain and grow jobs. It is important for these leaders to know that I understand the importance of their industry and value their contribution to Connecticut’s economy. I truly want our state to maintain its enviable position as the Insurance Capital of the World – and that means creating an environment where they can thrive.”
Rell and other public officials recently sparred with New York-based MetLife over keeping jobs in the state if MetLife’s proposed acquisition of Travelers Life & Annuity, which is based in Hartford, is is approved. Rell and MetLife Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche eventually announced an agreement to keep 1,310 Travelers jobs in Hartford. Rell said that the job losses, which stood at 1,200 when the talks began, would now total 490.
She said that creation of the Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Business Development Office underscores the importance of such businesses to the state’s economy.
“You need only look at the headlines to see the timeliness of this summit, and the creation of this office,” Rell said. “We literally worked night and day to save jobs in the Travelers-MetLife merger, and the potential job losses at Cigna are of great concern. Insurance and financial services made Hartford great and have always been a core part of Connecticut’s economy. We not only need to keep what we’ve got, we need to build on that legacy of success.
“We know – and insurance and financial companies are reminded every day – that the Connecticut work force is second to none,” she maintained. “In this incredibly competitive environment we need to reinforce that message every day. That’s one of the missions of the IFS Business Development Office. Another will be to help us be more aggressive in creating a business environment that encourages insurance and financial services firms to locate and grow here.”
The IFS Business Development Office is charged with helping the Governor and the DECD mobilize resources, shape public policy, engage state and local leadership and create a strategy to attract and retain insurance and financial services businesses.
A study of best practices used by states to attract and retain insurance and financial services jobs found that several states, notably Iowa and Vermont, have created similar dedicated offices that have proven successful in increasing insurance and financial services employment and investment.
“Recent restructurings and consolidations have shown us first-hand the impact these companies can have on the lives of our workers and their families, as well as on local and state economies,” Rell said. “If Hartford is to remain the Insurance Capital of the World we need to take action now.”
MetLife’s application for approval of the transaction is pending before the state Department of Insurance.
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