UNCASVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — 750 town leaders from West Hartford to New London and in between broke bread for the first time in two years Tuesday.
Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick said it was long overdue.
“It’s great to be all together again even though we have masks which are still a little difficult. We had to prove vaccination status. It’s nice to be face-to-face” Hoydick said.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) annual convention allows for brainstorming challenges.
Joe DeLong, the Executive Director of CCM, said Connecticut struggled to recover from the recession. Now leaders are hoping to avoid another struggle.
“They’re really trying to find and figure out collectively and collaboratively how they can put us in a position that we don’t lag coming out of the pandemic,” DeLong said.
The annual jobs report from October to October shows Connecticut’s unemployment rate is 2% higher than the rest of the country.
DeLong said it’s troubling.
“That is a concern for a lot of our municipal officials. They really want to put Connecticut on a brighter path forward.”
The state’s labor force also shrunk compared to the national numbers which grew. Hoydick said her city is a big manufacturing hub and they are looking for skilled workers.
“There are actually those sandwich-style billboards outside of their places of employment to try to attract people in,” Hoydick said.
Governor Ned Lamont addressed the group in the main ballroom at the Mohegan Sun Resort and said confidence is paramount, especially when it comes to tackling COVID.
“Our unemployment rate has gone down every month for the last 10 months. It’s continuing to go down. We will see whether the spike changes that,” Lamont said.
For now, these municipal CEOs are worried about the next pandemic — record retirements.
Many of the leaders also said they’re going to exchange ideas on how to create property tax relief and growth in the economy.