Published May 16. 2012 4:00AM
It is hard to imagine that a business that wanted to come to Connecticut, lease some space and hire some employees was kept away by the state because it didn't adequately prove there is a need for its services.
Apparently, another factor was that the existing Connecticut companies the newcomer would end up competing against didn't want a new rival and said so.
The Day reported Monday that the state Department of Transportation rejected a request by Coutu Brothers Movers of Rhode Island to open a new office in North Stonington, saying the company did not prove there is a need for new moving services.
I know. I know.
This is supposed to be a country of capitalists. The fact that a company is willing to make the investment in a new facility and hire workers here should be proof enough there is a potential market.
Why else would they come?
If they fail, who cares?
If they put the existing moving companies out of business, by offering lower rates or better services, then so be it, right?
Certainly a company wanting to do business here shouldn't be vetoed by potential rivals.
This is precisely the opposite of the way the system is supposed to work.
I was amazed that Gov. Dannel Malloy took a pass on commenting on this for the original news story. His Department of Economic and Community Development also declined to comment.
Clearly, Connecticut is not "open for business," as the governor likes to claim.
On the contrary, they are quite literally chasing business away.
I did, at the end of the day Tuesday, get a comment from the governor's office saying the state is open for business despite this one story.
But the statement said nothing about the gaping hole this moving company fell into.
"Whether it's bringing a large company like NBC Universal to our state or smaller investments in local companies through our Small Business Express program, the governor has made it clear that his number one job is turning around our economy and creating jobs," the statement said. "And we are seeing results - we've created more than 18,000 private sector jobs and our unemployment rate is down to 7.7%, a 20% decrease since the Governor took office."
Couldn't someone at least agree what happened to Coutu Brothers Moving is outrageous and suggest something will be done to fix it?
The only decent explanation from the state I could muster was from Kevin Nursick, state Department of Transportation spokesman, who made a pretty good argument about how the DOT was only following the law.
Indeed, state law puts the regulation of moving businesses, like taxis and liveries, under the DOT's jurisdiction.
The law lays out the process for holding hearings, allowing for comment by competitors and an appeal process to Superior Court.
I would think there might be still be plenty of room for a DOT hearing officer to rightfully conclude that a company's interest in doing business here would be enough to grant them permission. Indeed, Coutu's owner said he has had calls from Connecticut residents interested in hiring his company.
But the DOT hearing officer evidently thought otherwise.
Still, the law, some quirky relic of the past, needs to change so that it's not an issue at all. And the governor needs to get on it, at least acknowledge the travesty of capitalism that occurred here.
He shouldn't be running a state that's not open for business for all.
This is the opinion of David Collins