• Movies to med space: Event spotlights future of region’s economy, real estate

    From New Haven Biz
    By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo

    Filling job vacancies could be challenging and competitive for your business, given the current state of the market. 

    There are twice as many job openings in Connecticut as there are people looking for jobs, according to David Lehman, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

    Lehman was the featured speaker Tuesday night at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s annual Regional Real Estate & Construction Forecast, held at The Woodwinds in Branford.

    There are approximately 100,000 job openings compared to 50,000 job-seekers in Connecticut, according to Lehman. 

    “That type of tight labor market hasn’t been seen in quite some time, if ever,” Lehman said. “It is crucial that we see folks reenter the labor force in Connecticut.”

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the state had a labor force participation rate of about 67%, he said, noting that it has dropped to 63.5%.

    “We want to make sure folks feel comfortable in getting back to the work environment,” Lehman said. 

    The state has experienced growth in new businesses. According to Lehman, there are currently about 1,100 new businesses starting each month in Connecticut, compared to a pre-pandemic rate of about 700 to 800.

    “We are tracking this to see if it is long-term,” Lehman said. “We haven’t seen this level of business formation since 2006.”

    According to Lehman, New Haven is “one of the most dynamic economies” in the state, particularly in terms of life sciences and medicine. 

    Future Forecast

    The event also featured several panelists who spoke about upcoming real estate and construction projects. 

    Ginny Kozlowski, CEO of REX Development, gave a list of key projects on the horizon, such as the new bioscience tower under construction at 101 College St. in New Haven and Yale New Haven Health’s plans for a new neuroscience center.

    Also in the healthcare space, Kozlowski noted that the Connecticut Proton Therapy Center is planned for Northrop Road in Wallingford to treat patients with cancer. The new Elm City Bioscience Center will help meet demand for laboratory space too, she said.

    Kozlowski noted how universities in the region have real estate projects underway. Quinnipiac University has a $244 million construction project for three new buildings at its Mount Carmel Campus, and Southern Connecticut State University is constructing a new School of Business building.

    Jaigantic Studios CEO Donovan DeBoer, another panelist at the event, said the company is focused on building an entire entertainment industry here.

    Jaigantic plans to build a studio complex on River Street in New Haven’s Fair Haven neighborhood. According to the company’s website, it aims to break ground this year.

    DeBoer told the crowd that the company, which has an incubator space in Shelton, has been focused on acquiring property in Fair Haven, where it plans to build stages and support facilities.

    “We have a big plan to have over 20 acres of space, 20-something sound stages, and to create jobs for thousands of people,” DeBoer said.

    The plan is to recruit from underserved communities and provide training. 

    “That is really our mandate with this,” DeBoer said. “It has been incredible to really start to identify the talent pool that is in this state. New Haven is an incredible place, with great writers and actors.” 

    DeBoer noted there is “insatiable thirst,” for entertainment content, with viewers wanting streaming and on-demand services.

    The plan is to remain here for the long term, he said.

    The company is headed by Bridgeport native and action star Michael Jai White.

    “Our founder’s heart is here, and his dream is to give back to the community that raised him,” DeBoer said.

    According to Jaigantic’s website, more than 32 scripted films and television shows will be filmed at the studios and on location in Connecticut.

    Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at msullo@newhavenbiz.com.

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