Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that 45 small businesses in Connecticut have begun participating in a new state program designed to promote job creation by providing incentives to employers that hire unemployed jobseekers. The Governor made the announcement during a news conference with state officials at Street Fleet Mechanics, a small business in Bloomfield that recently hired two new employees under the program.
Created by last autumn's bipartisan Jobs Bill, the Subsidized Training & Employment Program (STEP UP) provides two types of hiring incentives -- a scaled, six month wage subsidy and a small manufacturer training grant that provides up to $12,500 over a six-month period. Qualified participants are typically residents who may have some of the necessary job qualifications but who still require on-the-job training to meet the needs of the company.
"Even though our unemployment rate is at its lowest point in three years, if you don't have a job it might as well be at 100%," said Governor Malloy. "By giving us the opportunity to take more people off the unemployment list while at the same time giving our small businesses with the chance to grow, STEP UP is the definition of win-win."
To date, 65 new employees have been hired at the 45 businesses currently taking part in the program. An additional 135 residents are in the process of being hired.
"The incentives offered through STEP UP are helping employers make the decision to hire individuals that show tremendous potential, but need more training," noted Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall. "The positive response to STEP UP from the business community provides further validation that Connecticut's economy is recovering and the number of job opportunities is growing. We are grateful to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for having the vision to approve an initiative that benefits both employers and jobseekers."
In total, STEP UP will provide $20 million in subsidies and training grants to help the state's small businesses hire more employees. Of the new jobs the program has helped create so far, positions include customer service representatives, machine operators, office assistants, carpenters, mechanics, equipment installers, shipping and receiving, fabricator, dispatch manager, tool grinders, help desk technicians and process engineers with hourly wages from $10 to $28.85.
To be eligible for either program, the company must employ less than 50 people and training must be provided at the business site. The new employee must be an unemployed jobseeker, and those hired under the wage subsidy program must meet certain income requirements and reside in specific municipalities, based on population or unemployment rates.
Bloomfield's Street Fleet Mechanics provides services to a wide spectrum of fleet vehicles, including repairs, towing, bodywork, graphics and glass replacement. The company recently hired a technician and an assistant technician with the help of STEP UP's subsidized wage program and has plans to expand and hire additional employees.
Sandi Potito, one of the company's owners, said, "STEP UP allowed us to move up our expansion plan to grow our company. We look forward to working with the STEP UP team to put Connecticut back to work, one small business at a time. The STEP UP Program has helped to give small businesses like ours a shot in the arm."
The members of the Bloomfield legislative delegation also noted the positive impact of the program for small businesses like the one the Governor visited today in their town.
"The STEP UP program was created to help put people back to work with on-the-job training, and I am happy to see that happening right here in Bloomfield with the skilled mechanics at Street Fleet," said State Senator Eric Coleman (D-Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor). "I hope to see the STEP UP program expanded this year to open opportunities for unemployed veterans and other workers at additional companies."
"The legislature put the pieces in place last October to put Connecticut back to work, and these new hires at Street Fleet Mechanics are just the latest evidence of our ongoing commitment to revitalizing Connecticut's economy," said State Senator Beth Bye, (D-West Hartford), who is Senate Chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.
State Representative David A. Baram (D-Bloomfield, Windsor) said, "I am very proud that Street Fleet Mechanics, a Bloomfield business, has been chosen to receive the STEP UP grant from the state. This is a business that demonstrates its commitment to hiring and training post-9/11 combat veterans. It prides itself on being a "one-stop shop' for all maintenance and repair needs, using mobile repair trucks, to perform many of the required maintenance and repairs at your business location, saving travel and vehicle down time. It is an honor for Bloomfield and the Connecticut to showcase such a committed and innovative business. The STEP UP grant is a recognition of its dedication to our economy and to our veterans."
"Small businesses such as Street Fleet Mechanics are an important part of both the local and regional economy and the state's new STEP UP program can help these companies grow and thrive," said State Representative Matthew Ritter (D-Hartford, Bloomfield). "Because these incentives will be used to help jump-start job creation and encourage long-term economic growth, they are also good investments for taxpayers."
Small businesses and unemployed jobseekers seeking additional information on the STEP UP program should visit the Connecticut Department of Labor's website at http://ct.gov/dol/StepUp to download a fact sheet, contact information and inquiry forms.