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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill Monday that he said will make it easier for Connecticut to boost businesses that sell products and services on a global scale.
The bill, An Act Encouraging the Exportation of State Products and Services Through the Small Business Express Program, enables the state Department of Economic and Community Development to speed funding requests. It passed the General Assembly without opposition.
Priority for funding will be given to business that create jobs in the fields of precision manufacturing, business services, sustainable technology, bioscience and information technology, as well as to companies planning to export products or services.
"We know that our industries are primed for growth, and we've been aggressive about increasing their visibility in foreign markets," Malloy said in a statement. "This bill will help us continue that work and compete in the global marketplace."
"The Small Business Express Program is doing exactly what it was designed to do - it is helping small businesses across the state grow and prosper," DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said in a statement. "This new bill helps companies leverage their skills and capabilities into international markets.
The bill calls for Smith to establish a streamlined application process for funding that will allow small businesses to get assistance within 30 days.
Malloy held a ceremonial signing of the bill at Test Logic in Middletown on the same day that a national business group released a report showing that international trade supports nearly half a million jobs in Connecticut. The Washington-based Business Roundtable also said the state exported about $15.3 billion in goods and services last year.
The positive effect of foreign trade on jobs in the state grew four times faster than total employment between 2004 and 2011, according to the group's analysis. The increased value of exports also has more than doubled the state's overall GDP growth since 2002, the Business Roundtable said.
Another bellwether of international trade, the State New Economy Index, showed that in 2012 Connecticut enjoyed more than $14 billion in direct foreign investments, enough to rank the state third nationally. Connecticut also ranks 10th per capita in the value of its exports.
"Connecticut businesses have the talent and expertise to compete in today's global economy," State Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Branford, co-chair of the General Assembly's Finance Committee, said in a statement.
State and local officials were joined at the bill-signing ceremony by Ken Hyatt, acting director of the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade division, and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District.
-- International exports and imports support 486,000 jobs in Connecticut.
-- 198 countries buy Connecticut-grown and manufactured goods and services.
-- Foreign-owned companies employ more than 100,000 in Connecticut.
-- 22 percent of the state's jobs were tied to trade in 2011, up from 10.6 percent in 2002.
-- Connecticut ranked 27th among U.S. states in goods exports last year, 19th in services exports.