Aims to Keep Jobs in State as Governor
By Ashley Foy
Local political figure and entrepreneur Ned Lamont is ready to face something that he says Connecticut has failed to fix over the last few elections cycles: the lack of job opportunity for recent college graduates.
His platform for this campaign is pretty simple: creating more jobs in Connecticut.
With his announcement to run for Governor of Connecticut, Lamont says he is passionate about education in the state and making room for the steady flow of new additions into the workforce.
He’s no stranger to the Connecticut political arena; in the 2006 Senate race, he pulled off an early victory against incumbent Joe Lieberman in the primary, but lost the general election.
“I am running for Governor because governors can make a difference. This is a state that has been flat on its back or falling behind for many years, falling behind on job creation,” he said. “When I say that, I mean young graduates are more likely to leave Connecticut than any other state since there are just not enough opportunities and a governor can make a real difference.”
With his experience at CCSU as part of the adjunct faculty, Lamont says he’s learned first-hand what the students think about their futures after college and what they’d like to see more of.
“I love talking to the Central faculty, spending time at the (CCSU) Student Center. I meet students all the time. It is one more type of outreach where you hear what is on people’s minds, what is important to them.” Lamont said.
“People tell me all the time, ‘you’re the job’s guy, Lamont. You’re the guy who does everything you can to create more jobs and universities like Central, like Yale, like UConn are key to good paying jobs. The research that comes out of there, the graduates, the skills…that’s our future.”
In addition to running weekly seminars at both Yale and Harvard University, Lamont has been very active at CCSU. Though he is not a full time professor at the university, Lamont jokes that he is a “distinguished professor.”
“I’m sort of a designated hitter,” he went on to explain.
“I’ve brought in a whole variety of guests to come and talk: the chief justice of the supreme court, Ted Turner, media folks, political folks, just to add to the discourse there. I’ve been a part time teacher as needed, just to help complement a teacher on a very part time basis. When David Blitz says ‘come here,’ I’m there!”
Lamont is also known for the entrepreneurship class during which he assigned students to come up with a business plan for a landscape business and take part in the “elevator competition” which requires the students to create a business plan that will raise $25,000 and keep their company in business.
“They need to imagine they just walked into an elevator where Warren Buffett walks in, and you have three minutes to make your case, go! We do it now at all of the state universities and we have a statewide elevator pitch competition, and the winner gets a prize – $10,000 or something along those lines,” Lamont said.
Keeping his audience in mind, Lamont believes he is the best candidate for governor from any college student’s perspective.
“As governor the other thing I want to do, is make sure that if you are in one of these professions where we have a need and you have a student loan, stay in Connecticut for five years and we will start forgiving that loan,” he explained.
Lamont added that that relationship between businesses, students and the colleges that prepare them is enough to keep graduates in the state.
Though Lamont has spent much time as a teacher and as a member of the Greenwich Board of Selectmen, he is actually known as a businessman rather than politician or scholar. He created Lamont Digital systems in 1984, of which he is now the CEO. He believes the fact that he is an entrepreneur will aid him greatly in the race for governor.
“I think that’s important because people want to know who you are and I think they know I go to Hartford and I am somebody who is going to stand up and challenge the status quo again and that’s what I do, that’s what entrepreneurs do,” he said. “I’m a guy who started up a business. We’ve taken on the cable TV industry; I’m a bit of a political entrepreneur as well, taking on the establishment here.”
“We focus on job creation. This is a state that is dead last in job creation over the last 20 years, even behind Michigan which, as you know has lost a lot in its automobile industry, we have created even fewer jobs.” Lamont said. To him, higher education is a big player and he’d like to see the best students attend school in Connecticut, graduate and remain in the state.
“You need somebody with a strategy to make this a place where people want to grow and expand their businesses,” Lamont said. He believes he is that somebody.