Connecticut Innovations, the state’s tech investment agency, has run short of money, and says it will delay funding some of its key programs. The issue — it can’t get onto the Bond Commission agenda.
Connecticut Innovations administers some of the economic development programs that were set up in the 2011 jobs bill — and it uses state bond funds to do it. It last went to the commission in March of 2013, and it was due to get another slice of money this year. “We’ve attempted to get on the agenda a couple times," says spokesman Lauren Carmody, "and it just comes up that sometimes you make the agenda, sometimes you don’t.”
The problem now - the bond commission has canceled several recent meetings, and the earliest it can approve the CI funding is November. That means contractors who work for the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, CT Next, won’t get paid until January, and some startup companies won’t get the investment cash they’d been counting on. Carmody says they’re trying to be as transparent as they can about the issue. “It is a short term delay and we’re working our way through it," she told WNPR. "We’re just being very vocal about communicating it with the people who are impacted.”
But the situation has some in the entrepreneur community exasperated. Mark Lassoff runs Learn To Program, a successful Vernon-based company that offers training for computer coding. He's been a mentor to entrepreneurs within the CT Next system, and he calls the shortfall inexcusable. “There are programs that are gaining momentum that should be supported," said Lassoff, "and with this disruption, it really feels like the state isn’t in the game and this isn’t an issue that they’re truly interested in.”
He says if the state really wants to play in this commercial space, they have to be willing to live up to the standards a commercial business would expect. “Frankly if the situation was reversed and the contractors were telling CI that they couldn’t deliver on milestones until 90 to 120 days, their contracts would be discontinued,” he said.
Governor Dannel Malloy chairs the bond commission — both sides may be looking to him for a resolution. His office issued a statement saying, “Governor Malloy has and will continue to support CI in its critical mission.”