The founder of a New Haven tech start-up had one word of advice for Susan Bysiewicz: blockchain.
Bysiewicz received that word of advice Sunday at a gathering for her Democratic campaign for lieutenant governor. The dozens of attendees at the gathering, at the Westville flats home of city business development officer Gerry Garcia, included a healthy sprinkling of entrepreneurs seeding the kind of tech economy candidates for statewide office say they hope to nurture.
One of those techies was Tom Nassr, who recently opened the business-software firm Checkmate on Temple Street. (Read about his company here.)
After delivering a stump speech to the crowd in Garcia’s living room, Bysiewicz asked Nassr how she and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont can help attract and nurture tech companies if they win the Nov. 6 election.
“I’d love to see some definition declarations around specifically blockchain technology. I think there’s enormous potential in the state to be a producer of people who work in that technology.”
In case you’re over 30 or don’t write software code, blockchain is a secure digital decentralized data-storing network of computer transactions. Cypto-currencies like bitcoin use it. Like the early world wide web, it is attracting both idealists (like this effort to create a new universe of pure reader-responsive journalism) and “dark web” pirates and speculators.
Bysiewicz asked Nassr specifically how Connecticut government could promote a blockchain sector. He responded that the state could help entrepreneurs pursue blockchain-related ventures by following the lead of Wyoming, which has deregulated use of blockchain and produced bills to encourage its use. Nassr suggested that Connecticut create a new official definition of blockchain business entities (as opposed to, limited liability or subchapter-S corporations) and pass a law authorizing banks to accept blockchain companies’ currency.
Connecticut’s established insurance and asset management industries make the state ripe for such an idea, Nassr argued.
“Wouldn’t that be interesting if Connecticut could become the blockchain capital of the country or at least the Northeast?” Bysiewicz responded.
“We’ll put that on the list to think about.”
Bysiewicz also heard from Salim Bendacha, who came from Monaco to open a new higher-ed social-networking company called twic on Edwards Street three weeks ago. Bendacha said Garcia convinced him and his team to locate here rather than Boston or New York.
He asked Bysiewicz how she could help start-ups like his company if she gets elected. Bysiewicz responded with a proposal she has emphasized in campaign stops with small businesses: She and Lamont vow to eliminate the $250 annual business entity tax.
Like the Republican gubernatorial candidate, the Democratic Lamont-Bysiewicz ticket is competing first and foremost to convince voters that it, not the other party, will come through and cut taxes if elected. Both tickets are claiming they can responsibly address a projected $5 billion biennial budget deficit while cutting taxes; they’re disagreeing over which taxes should be cut. (Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski argues that he can phase out income and estate taxes; Lamont-Bysiewicz argue that that would bankrupt state coffers and lead to property tax hikes.)
Bysiewicz argued at Sunday’s event that the $250 fee affects people’s ability to start companies.
“Isn’t that great?” she said of the proposed cut. “If you’re an LLC or a corporation, you have to pay $250 whether you make more or not. When you’re an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a start-up, that’s a barrier. You have to come up with 250 bucks just to open your door.” She spoke more generally of lowering property taxes for small businesses, as well.
“Every business has some barriers,” Bysiewicz said. “We just need to address those barriers.”