America’s Best States to Live In: Connecticut Ranks Second

The only state that is a better place to live in than Connecticut is Massachusetts, according to a new survey of key data.  Connecticut was ranked second when the website 24/7 Wall St. reviewed three statewide social and economic measures — poverty rate, educational attainment, and life expectancy at birth — to rank each state’s living conditions.  Based on the data analyzed, the state’s motto could easily be “live long and prosper.” Massachusetts, home to one of the nation’s wealthiest and most highly educated populations, followed by neighboring Connecticut, lead the nation in quality of life. Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, trails the other 49 states.

Among the key stats for Connecticut:

  • 10-year population growth: 5.8% (10th lowest)
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1% (19th highest)
  • Poverty rate: 10.5% (6th lowest)
  • Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (2nd highest)

ct-2Quality of life in the United States is heavily dependent on financial status, the survey summary points out. As a consequence, the nation’s best states to live in often report very high incomes. With a median household income of $71,346 a year, fifth highest of all states, Connecticut is the second best state to live in and an especially good example of this pattern, the description of Connecticut’s ranking explains.

The publication notes that “While satisfactory living conditions are possible with low incomes, this is true only to a point. Once incomes fall below the poverty line, for example, financial constraints are far more likely to diminish quality of life.”

Rounding out the top five:  New Hampshire, Minnesota, and New Jersey.  At the bottom of the list: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Education levels are another major contributor to a community’s living conditions — not just as a basis of economic prosperity, but also as a component of an individual’s quality of life. Due in part to the greater access to high paying jobs that often require a college degree, incomes also tend to be higher in these states. In all of the 15 best states in which to live, the typical household earns more than the national median household income of $55,775, 24/7 Wall St. pointed out.ct-2nd

Like the vast majority of states on the higher end of the list, Connecticut is described as relatively safe. There were 219 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 state residents in 2015, among the lowest rates of all states, the survey stated.  Housing markets are also indicative of quality of living. A high median home value, for instance, frequently means high demand for housing in the area. Nationwide, the typical home is worth $194,500. In most of the 25 top states, the median home value far exceeds the nationwide median.

The survey did not take into account more subjective conditions such as climate preference, the presence of friends and family, and personal history.

To identify the best and worst states in which to live, 24/7 Wall St. devised an index composed of three socioeconomic measures for each state: poverty rate, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and life expectancy at birth. The selection of these three measures was inspired by the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Poverty rates and bachelor attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Life expectancies at birth are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are as of 2012, latest year for which data is available. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are for October 2016, the most recent available month of data.

Indiana Insurance Department to Hold Hearing on Anthem Acquisition of CIGNA on April 29

The Indiana Insurance Department will consider the proposed acquisition of Bloomfield-headquartered CIGNA Health Care by Indianapolis-based Anthem, Inc. at a public hearing on Friday, April 29 in Indianapolis.indiana “Any member of the public interested in the proposed acquisition of control may attend the hearing,” indicates a public notice of the hearing. In addition, “Any policyholder of Cigna HealthCare of Indiana, Inc., or other person whose interests may be affected by the proposed acquisition of control shall have the right to appear and become party to the proceeding.”

Officials indicated that written testimony could be mailed in lieu of an in-person appearance, and would be considered. Members of the public may make written submissions  without appearing in person at the hearing. Length of submissions should not exceed 5 pages, double-spaced. Officials indiated that submissions should be sent to John Murphy, outside counsel to the Commissioner in this matter, by close of business on April 26, 2016. Contact information is: John T. Murphy, ICE MILLER LLP, One American Square, Indianapolis, IN  46282, (317) 236-2292,  [this information was updated on 4/19]


Consumer Groups, State Comptroller Call for Full Review

Among those aligned in opposition to the acquisition is the American Medical Association, noting that the deal would make the combined firm the nation’s largest insurer by membership and also give the company a tremendous amount of leverage when negotiating with providers.  In a press release, AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD, said such proposed mergers threaten to reduce competition and choice. “To give commercial health insurers virtually unlimited power to exert control over an issue as significant and sensitive to patient health care is bad for patients and not good or the nation’s health care system.”

Anthem and CIGNA suggested that the deal will create new efficiencies that will make the healthcare market function more efficiently.  A website,, has been established to highlight the companies commitment to “drive health care innovation.”

Last month, a coalition of consumer and medical organizations in Connecticut called for greater public input into the Connecticut Insurance Department’s review of the proposed Anthem-CIGNA  mega-merger, expressing concerns about the potential “negative impact on both the cost and quality of care in Connecticut” of that acquisition and the proposed Aetna-Humana merger. The groups – Universal Health Care Foundation, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the Connecticut State Medical Society – formed the “Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice” coalition and urged state Insurance Commissioner Katherine Wade to “ensure an open, transparent hearing process in Connecticut, where policy holders, physicians and other interested parties are given maximum opportunity to share their views.” The coalition has been conducting public information sessions, including one in Mansfield this week, to provide state residents with information on "what the proposed health care mergers will mean for Connecticut consumers."

A week ago, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, in a letter to the Department, urged an open and thorough review in order to address significant concerns raised by health care consumers and providers.  Lembo expressed his support for the efforts of the Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice, noting that a merger between Anthem and Cigna would increase the Connecticut health insurance concentration over 40 percent.   Lembo indicated that only Georgia is expected to experience a more significant increase in market concentration.

CIGNA Questions Anthem; Feds Question CIGNA

A week ago, Modern Healthcare, a web publication focused on healthcare business news, raised questions about the absence of detail in the year since Anthem disclosed “what was by far the largest data breach in healthcare history.  The cyberattack—in which hackers stole the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses and other personal information of 78.8 million current and former members and employees – caused consumers to question “whether Anthem and other healthcare organizations could manage the volumes of data they had,” according to the news report. anthem-cigna-logos-thumb-400

The publication also questioned whether state regulators would consider not only the breach, but CIGNA’s reaction to it at the time:

“Trust with customers and providers is critical in our industry, and Anthem has yet to demonstrate a path towards restoring this trust,” CIGNA CEO David Cordani and former Board Chairman Isaiah Harris Jr. wrote in a June 21, 2015 letter: “We need to understand the litigation and potential liabilities, operational impact and long-term damage to Anthem's franchise as a result of this unprecedented data breach, as well as the governance and controls that resulted in this system failure.”  It was estimated that in Connecticut, about 1.7 million people were affected.

In January, published reports indicated that U.S. regulators temporarily banned CIGNA-HealthSpring from offering certain Medicare plans to new patients after a probe uncovered issues with current offerings, citing that CIGNA’s deficiencies “Create a Serious Threat to Enrollee Health and Safety.”  CIGNA disclosed that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had suspended the company from enrolling new customers or marketing plans for CIGNA Medicare Advantage and Standalone Prescription Drug Plan Contracts. CIGNA acquired HealthSpring in 2012.CMS_logo

In an enforcement letter, CMS accused CIGNA of "widespread and systemic failures," including the denial of health care coverage and prescription drugs to patients who should have received them. The actions "create a serious threat to enrollee health and safety," said CMS, which required CIGNA to appoint an independent monitor to audit its handling of the matter.

“Cigna has had a longstanding history of non-compliance with CMS requirements. Cigna has received numerous notices of non-compliance, warning letters, and corrective action plans from CMS over the past several years. A number of these notices were for the same violations discovered during the audit, demonstrating that Cigna has not corrected issues of non-compliance,” said the 12-page enforcement letter from the Director of the Medicare Parts C and D Oversight and Enforcement Group.

CIGNA, First in Connecticut

Nearly five years ago, in July 2011, CIGNA announced it was to receive $50 million in economic benefits from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with the promise of adding at least 200 jobs the following two years, which would increase the company’s employment in the state to more than 4,000.  CIGNA also declared Bloomfield its corporate headquarters in the United States, replacing Philadelphia which had been the company’s corporate headquarters since 1982.gov_first_five_a

CIGNA was the first company to receive economic incentives under Governor Dannel Malloy’s “First Five” program, which was designed to spur job growth and support Connecticut businesses in becoming more competitive in the global marketplace. “CIGNA is proof that these tools work and that Connecticut is open for business,” Malloy said at the time.

“Through this partnership with the Governor and the state, we are building upon our long history in Connecticut,” added CIGNA Chief Executive Officer David Cordani.

Anthem's application states it has "no current plans or proposals to reduce in any material respect the number of employees employed by the Cigna companies."  The $54 billion merger would increase Anthem's membership from 38 million to 53 million members nationwide.

Approval in Florida, Concerns in California

“There are no meaningful adverse impacts resulting from the acquisition,” Florida’s Insurance Commissioner said last week in approving the acquisition in his state. “The companies, individually or in combination, are an important part of, but not a dominant factor in, the Florida market, and their combination does not noticeably increase the market concentration across the broadly measured market on a statewide basis.”

In California, the combined membership of Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna would make it the largest insurer in the state with more than 8 million members.  At a public hearing in California last month convened by that state’s Insurance Department, consumer advocates and the AMA opposed the acquisition.

"This merger would create the nation's largest insurer, which could have a significant impact on California's consumers, businesses, and the healthcare marketplace," said California’s Insurance Commissioner. "I am considering what is best for consumers and the overall marketplace. Anthem and Cigna bear the burden of demonstrating this proposed merger is in the best interest of California consumers and the health-care marketplace."

Shareholders of Anthem and Cigna voted overwhelmingly in favor of the merger plan late last year, and regulators in 26 states where the companies operate are at various stages of considering the acquisition.  Attorneys General in a number of those states, including Connecticut, are looking into the proposed acquisition on anti-trust grounds, and the U.S. Department of Justice has the final authority to approve the deal, published reports indicate.California_Department_of_Insurance_seal

The news site Business Insurance reported soon after the acquisition was announced that “viewed in tandem with rival Aetna Inc.'s recent $37 billion merger agreement with Humana Inc.— as well as St. Louis-based health insurer Centene Corp.'s proposed acquisition of Woodland Hills, California-based Health Net Inc. for $6.3 billion — experts said regulators may be more stringent in examining the Anthem/Cigna deal's potential to dampen health insurer competition.”

CT Ranks 20th in Dependence on Gun Industry, But 3rd in Firearms Output, 2nd in Industry Wages

Connecticut’s place in the ongoing national debate about guns is reflected in a new analysis which ranks the state 20th in the nation in overall dependence on the gun industry, but also ranks the state 3rd in total firearms industry output per capita and 2nd in highest average wages & benefits in the firearms industry. Picture8With the gun debate center-stage in the presidential primaries and in Washington, D.C., the website WalletHub analyzed which states depend most on the arms and ammunitions industry both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through firearm ownership. WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Firearms Industry, 2) Gun Prevalence and 3) Gun Politics and eight metrics.

Connecticut also came in 41st in its "firearms prevalence rank" and 47th in "gun politics rank."

The states Most Dependent on the Gun Industry were Idaho, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Kentucky and Alabama.gun stat chart

Officials point out that the gun industry plays an important role in the U.S. economy, and Connecticut is no exception. By one estimate, firearms and ammunitions contributed a total of nearly $43 billion to the national economy in 2014. That figure accounts for more than 263,000 jobs that paid $13.7 billion in total wages, according to the report from the Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation. In the same year, federal and state governments collected from the industry more than $5.79 billion in business taxes, plus an additional $863.7 million in federal excise duties, the WalletHub report indicated.

In the overall rankings, the states determined to be least dependent on the gun industry are Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware.

The analysis also found:

  • The number of firearms-industry jobs per capita is highest in New Hampshire, which is seven times greater than in the District of Columbia, where it is lowest.
  • The average wages & benefits in the firearms industry is highest in the District of Columbia, which is three times greater than in New Mexico, where it is lowest.
  • The total firearms industry output per capita is highest in New Hampshire, which is 18 times greater than in Hawaii, where it is lowest.
  • The total taxes paid by the firearms industry per capita is highest in Montana, which is six times greater than in Delaware, where it is lowest.
  • Gun ownership is highest in Alaska, which is 12 times greater than in Delaware, where it is lowest.

The eight relevant metrics utilized in the analysis and their corresponding weights were as follows:map

Firearms Industry – Total Points: 35

  • Number of Firearms-Industry Jobs per 10,000 Residents: (~14 Points)
  • Average Wages & Benefits in the Firearms Industry: (~7 Points)
  • Total Firearms Industry Output per Capita: (~7 Points)
  • Total Taxes Paid by the Firearms Industry per Capita: (~7 Points)

Gun Prevalence – Total Points: 35

  • Gun Ownership: (~17.5 Points)
  • Gun Sales per 1,000 Residents (approximated by using National Instant Criminal Background Check System data): (~17.5 Points)

Gun Politics – Total Points: 30

  • Gun-Control Contributions to Congressional Members per 100,000 Residents: (~15 Points)
  • Gun-Rights Contributions to Congressional Members per 100,000 Residents: (~15 Points)

Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the BMJ Publishing Group and the Center for Responsive Politics, according to WalletHub.

Front Seat Passengers Could Be Killed; Repairs for CT Cars May Take Until 2019

Connecticut drivers – likely numbering in the thousands - have been advised not to allow anyone to ride in the front passenger seat of their car, due to the risk of an airbag explosion that could be deadly. A nationwide recall of cars with airbags supplied to automakers by Takata Corp. is being handled differently in different parts of the United States, and it appears that Connecticut and the Northeast have the longest waits – already more than six months in some cases.letter

And the wait may not nearly be over.  Deadlines for repairs to the 19 million vehicles under recall nationwide will run through 2019, according to federal officials.  The NHTSA website indicates that “completion deadlines for fixing the 19 million vehicles under recall will begin in 2017 and end in 2019.”

An April letter sent by Toyota to owners of its affected vehicles in Connecticut read in part “we will send you another notification once sufficient parts have been produced and the remedy can be performed. Until the remedy becomes available in your location, we recommend that you do not operate the vehicle with an occupant in the front passenger seat.”

The potentially fatal malfunction, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), is that the inflator can causes its air bag to explode. The letter indicated that “in the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the air bag cushion material, striking the vehicle occupants potentially resulting in serious injury or death.”Takata2

Last week, U.S. auto safety regulators fined Takata Corp. of Japan $70 million for lapses in the way it handled recalls of millions of explosion-prone air bags that are responsible for eight deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.  It is the largest civil fine in NHTSA history and marked the first time the agency used its authority to accelerate recall repairs. Regulators also ordered Takata to stop making the air bag inflators unless the company can prove they are safe, NBC News reported.

So far, about 23.4 million driver and passenger inflators have been recalled on 19.2 million U.S. vehicles sold by 12 automakers, the network reported. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal responded that the $70 million fine seems like a slap on the wrist and should be larger.  The penalty “provide(s) no meaningful deterrence for continuing reprehensible and irresponsible behavior that costs countless preventable injuries and lives,” Blumenthal said.

Picture8The company, and impacted automakers, are making parts necessary to accomplish repairs available in regions of the country with humid climates first, because humidity has been said to increase the risk of air bag rupture.  Connecticut residents, living in a region not known for its humidity, are not a priority for the repair, and continue to wait for word when repairs for their recalled vehicles can be made.

NBC Connecticut reports that one local Toyota dealer indicates that “If it’s not available we go in and check every week to 10 days with that VIN (vehicle identification number) to see if parts are available,” he said. “We’re kind of at the mercy of not only the supplier but also the manufacturer.”

In the meantime, car companies are left to “apologize for any inconvenience” and affected car owners need to remember that front seat passengers could be in serious danger. The situation may not change for some time, especially for parts of the country including New England. Picture5

Blumenthal has also urged Takata to commit to compensation for victims, but the company has thus far refused to do so.  There have also been calls for compensation for the millions of car owners unable to have someone ride in the front passenger seat.

The website has additional information about vehicles subject to the recall, and those that can now be repaired. Individuals can enter their vehicle’s VIN number to learn if they are eligible for a repair under the recall.




Connecticut Businesses Encourage Voluntary Community Service on Company Time

Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut companies surveyed by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association report that they pay their employees for one or two days of volunteerism, another 17 percent offer three or four paid days, and 10 percent offer five or more paid days for employees to engage in community service activities. That data was included in the newly released 2015 Connecticut Corporate Giving Survey.  The survey includes nearly 200 businesses and has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.2 report

Among survey respondents, 57 percent say they are more likely to hire candidates who are active in their communities, and one-third say customers do business with them based in part on their reputation for good corporate citizenship.  Just over half, 53 percent, say they encourage or allow employees to volunteer on company time.

Community volunteering is very important for employees who seek a higher purpose in life and look for meaning, says Khadija Al Arkoubi, an assistant professor of management at the University of New Haven: "Companies that allow it improve their employees' engagement and well-being," Arkoubi told Fast Company magazine. "They also develop their soft skills including their leadership capabilities."

The Society for Human Resource Management surveys employers about the benefits they offer. In 2013, about 20 percent said they give their workers a bank of paid time off specifically for volunteering, up from 15 percent in time

A UnitedHealth Group study in 2013 found that 87 percent of people who volunteered in the previous year said that volunteering had developed teamwork and people skills, and 81 percent agreed that volunteering together strengthens relationships among colleagues, Fast Company reported. In addition, four out of five employed people who volunteered in the past year said that they “feel better about their employer” because of the employer’s involvement in volunteer activities, according to the publication.

“It is encouraging to see that not only do many businesses provide incentives for employees to volunteer for area charities, but many voluntarily pay them for their efforts,” said Brian J. Flaherty, Senior Vice President of CBIA.  In the CBIA survey, nearly one-third of businesses (31%) said they recognize or reward employees for volunteer service.

CBIA is Connecticut’s leading business organization, with public policy staff working with state government to help shape specific laws and regulations to support job creation and make Connecticut’s business climate competitive.

paid stat





CT Ranks Fourth in Number of Planned Parenthood Sites Per Capita

As controversy continues to swirl in the nation’s capital regarding federal funding of Planned Parenthood, a recent tally of Planned Parenthood locations nationwide indicates that Connecticut ranks 4th in the number of locations within the state, based on the state’s female population. The news organization Bloomberg ranked the U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on the number of Planned Parenthood locations per 100,000 women, ages 15 to 49.  Connecticut, with 2.08 locations per 100,000 women, ranked behind Vermont (8.74), Alaska (2.37), and Montana (2.33).  Rounding out the top 10 were Washington, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Indiana. images

With 17 locations in Connecticut, the state ranked 14th in the number of Planned Parenthood locations within the state.  The largest number are in California (114), New York (59), Pennsylvania (36), Texas (35), and Washington (32).  Also ranked among the top 15 are Ohio (28), New Jersey (26), Florida and Indiana (23), Wisconsin (22), Michigan and Colorado (21), Illinois and Minnesota (18) and Connecticut (17).

Locations of Planned Parenthood Centers in Connecticut include Bridgeport, Danbury, Danielson, Enfield, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Old Saybrook, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury, West Hartford and Willimantic.

According to the organization’s website, Planned Parenthood has 59 unique, locally governed affiliates nationwide operating approximately 700 health centers, "which reflect the diverse needs of their communities."

These health centers provide a wide range of safe, reliable health care — and the majority is preventive, primary care, which helps prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screen for cervical and other cancers, the website points out.

17 CT Companies Reach Fortune 500, From #8 GE (Fairfield) to #487 Amphenol (Wallingford)

Connecticut has a total of 17 companies headquartered in the state that are now ranked on the Fortune 500, as the latest annual business list is published by Fortune magazine this week.  That includes one company, General Electric, in the top 10, a total of seven companies in the top 250, and two that reached the Fortune 500 list this year. The nation's largest companies ranked in the newly updated Fortune 500 list earned combined total annual revenue of $12.5 trillion last year — an all-time high that's up 2.6 percent from the year before.  Total market value of firms that made the 2015 list reached $17.4 trillion as of March 31, also an all-time high that's up 7.7 percent from the previous year, the publication announced.  This year's list of U.S. companies ranked by their 2014 revenue also employ 2fortune500logo6.8 million employees in all, more than ever, according to Fortune, whose issue with the 61st annual ranking is out this week.

The top 10:  Walmart, ExxonMobil; Chevron; Berkshire Hathaway; Apple; General Motors; Phillips 66; General Electric; Ford Motor and CVS Health.  CVS Health made the top 10 for the first time.  There were 19 companies that made their debut on the 2015 list of the nation’s top 500 companies, including Netflix,, Expedia and News Corp., as 26 firms dropped out of the updated ranking.  Facebook, in its third year on the list, jumped into the top 250, at number 242, up from number 341 a year ago.

The 7 companies headquartered in Connecticut that rank among the 250 top businesses on the list:

  • 8. General Electric of Fairfield (up from 9 last year)
  • 45. United Technologies of Hartford (same as last year)
  • 49. Aetna of Hartford (up from 57)
  • 90. Cigna of Bloomfield (up from 97)
  • 143. Xerox of Norwalk, down from 137.
  • 160. The Hartford Financial Services Group of Hartford (down from 113)
  • 249. Praxair of Danbury (down from 233)

The 8 Connecticut-headquartered companies that remained in the Fortune 500, and 2 companies that earned a slot for the first time:

  • 261. Stanley Black & Decker of New Britain (down from 255)
  • 317. Charter Communications of Stamford (up from 331)
  • 339. Priceline Group of Norwalk (up from 383)
  • 377. Terex of Westport (down from 358)
  • 385. W.R. Berkley of Greenwich (up from 409)
  • 421. EMCOR Group of Norwalk (down from 407)
  • 442. Starwood Hotels & Resorts of Stamford (down from 424)
  • 461. United Rentals of Stamford (up from 500)
  • 486. Harman International Industries of Stamford (up from 576)
  • 487. Amphenol of Wallingford (up from 533)

harmanLogoOne of the two new entries on this year’s list that are headquartered in Connecticut is Harman International Industries, based in Stamford, the parent company behind an array of world-renowned audio brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, JBL®, Mark Levinson®, Lexicon®, and Infinity®.  Well established for six decades, since it was launched by audio pioneer Sid Harmon, the company’s founder, the current Chairman, President and CEO is Dinesh Paliwal. states

Amphenol-Corporation-logoAmphenol World Headquarters is in Wallingford, and a number of the international company’s divisions are also based in Connecticut: Amphenol Nexus Technologies Division is in Stamford, Amphenol Times Microwave and Times Fiber Communications in Wallingford, Spectra Strip in Hamden and Amphenol RF in Danbury.  Amphenol, founded in 1932, is one of the largest manufacturers of interconnect products in the world. The Company designs, manufactures and markets electrical, electronic and fiber optic connectors, coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, and interconnect systems.  The primary end markets for the company's products are communications and information processing markets, including cable television, cellular telephone and data communication and information processing systems; aerospace and military electronics; and automotive, rail and other transportation and industrial applications. (see company video)

Fortune 500 companies had revenues last year that equaled 71.9 percent of U.S. GDP—up from 58.4 percent two decades ago, and 35 percent in 1955, according to Fortune. “To be sure, much of that revenue comes from overseas operations. But these companies are still the guts of the U.S., and the global, economy,” the publication points out.greatest challenge

As part of the magazine’s research for the list, they sent a survey to all the Fortune 500 CEOs. One question asked: What is your company’s greatest challenge? “The rapid pace of technological change” topped the list, besting “cybersecurity” (a close second), as well as other traditionally popular responses, such as “increased regulation,” “shareholder activism,” and a “shortage of skilled labor.” Interestingly, 94 percent of those who responded said their companies would change more in the next five years than in the past five, Fortune reported.

New York is the state with the most companies on the list with 55, followed by Texas with 54 and California with 53.  There are 33 companies headquartered in Illinois, 23 in Ohio, 20 in Georgia, 19 in New Jersey and Virginia, 18 in Pennsylvania, 16 in Florida, and 10 in Wisconsin.

Walmart takes the top spot for the third year in a row and the eleventh time ever.Only three companies have held the number 1 spot on the Fortune 500 since its creation in 1955: General Motors, Exxon Mobil and Walmart, according to published reports.


Northern New England States Anticipate Higher Lyme Disease Levels for 2014

Officials in Northern New England are anticipating record or near-record levels of Lyme Disease in their states during 2014 when the final numbers are tallied. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Sheila Pinette recently told the Associated Press that when the 2014 stats are in, the state is likely to exceed the record high of 1,384 cases of the illness in 2013.  Vermont officials say their state is on track for its second- or third-highest total on record in 2014, following the 2013 high of 671, and New Hampshire officials say the numbers there are in line with recent years, which included a record-high in 2013.  Official data will be released in the coming months.LYME

Connecticut’s 2014 stats are due in March, and officials did not comment on what they are anticipating.  In 2013, Connecticut had 2,108 confirmed cases, according to the Department of Public Health, and a total of 2,918 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease were reported.   The largest number were in Fairfield County, New London County and New Haven County.

It is unclear whether better reporting methods or environmental factors – or both – are behind the apparent growing numbers in New England. Symptoms can include fatigue, fever, skin rashes, and a headache. Left untreated, it can lead to arthritis, facial palsy, and problems with the nervous system.  tick

Last summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an estimated 300,000 Americans get the tick-borne disease every year, PBS reported. The number of cases has been increasing.

Most instances of Lyme Disease are concentrated in the Northeast, with 95 percent of them in 14 states, including Connecticut, along with Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In 2013, it was the 5th most common Nationally Notifiable disease, according to the CDC. Last year, the Pennsylvania legislature established a task force that will operate within the Pennsylvania Department of Health to help the department develop better surveillance, educate the public about Lyme disease, and advise health care professionals.

The 2,918 cases in Connecticut in 2013 reflected an increase from 2,660 in 2012, but a drop from 3,041 cases in 2011 and 3,068 in 2010.


Top 10 State in U.S. Patents, Connecticut To Help Innovators Go for More

The number of patents issued to Connecticut residents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been climbing steadily, from 1,384 in 2007 to 2,168 in 2013, the most recent year available.  That places Connecticut at #8 in the nation, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The state is not resting on its laurels.

A number of federal and state agencies, led by the Office of Secretary of the State, are collaborating in offering a day-long seminar, “Meet the Experts: Patent and Innovations,” on February 7 in Hartford, walking participants through the ins and outs of the patent process. Picture4

Officials say that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and partners “will offer a comprehensive seminar that deals exclusively with various types of intellectual property, as well as safe-guarding methods to protect your products. This seminar will also deliver valuable information such as patent processing and global intellectual property protection. Having an understanding on how to safeguard your intellectual property will allopatent-logow your firm to freely innovate, grow, and prosper.”

A 2013 report by the Brookings Institution found that most U.S. patents—63 percent—are developed by people living in just 20 metro areas, which are home to 34 percent of the U.S. population. Reflecting the advantages of large metropolitan economies, 92 percent of U.S. patents are concentrated in just 100 metro areas, with 59 percent of the population.

The report also indicated that “inventions, embodied in patents, are a major driver of long-term regional economic performance, especially if the patents are of higher quality. In recent decades, patenting is associated with higher productivity growth, lower unemployment rates, and the creation of more publicly-traded companies.”

Nationwide, the 10 most inventive years in U.S. history, measured by patents per capita, are 1916, 1915, 1885, 1932, 2010, 2011, 1931, 1883, 1890, and 1917, according to the Brookings study. Two of these years came just after the Great Recession; the others were in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and post-Civil War America.

The nation’s top 10 states, according to Business Insider, are Idaho, Vermont, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado, based on 2012 data.  A similar list compiled by CNN Money that year placed Connecticut at #9.  For patents applied for from 2007 to 2011, the metro areas with the highest number per capita are San Jose; Burlington, VT; Rochester, MN; Corvallis, OR; and Boulder, CO, the Brookings review found.

Two centuries ago, in 1809, a Connecticut resident received the first US patent issued to a woman, but it would not be until after 1840 that women’s patents made their mark in the United States Patent Office. Between 1790 and 1930, Connecticut residents were issued the most patents in the US per capita, according to  feb 7

The Feb. 7 program will include sessions on intellectual property, what to expect after filing requirements for a provisional patent, international patent protection and the value of branding inventions with a trademark.  U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and other elected officials are expected as well.

Sponsoring agencies include the U.S. Commercial Service, Connecticut District Export Council, University of Connecticut, Department of Economic and Community Development, and Office of Secretary of the State.  It is being held at the Hartford Public Library.   Registration is available at

Will Blizzard of '78 Be Repeated in 2015?

Is Connecticut in for another Blizzard of ’78?  For those old enough to remember, there has been nothing like it since.  The blizzard shut down the state of Connecticut and much of New England - roads, businesses, schools, just about everything.  The legendary storm is not only vivid in memories - it has been the subject of a documentary on Connecticut Public Television, and has its own website,, the work of amateur historian Matt Bowling.blizzard photo The website recalls that “in Connecticut, Governor Ella Grasso was trying to drive from the Governor’s Mansion to the state storm center in downtown Hella helpartford.   She didn’t quite make it.  Forced to abandon her car and walk the remaining blocks to the state armory, Grasso was not slow in taking the storm seriously.  Thanks to (Massachusetts Governor Michael) Dukakis and Grasso, both state and National Guard troops would soon be on their way.”

Recalled former WTNH-TV newscaster Kenn Venit, “By Monday afternoon if you weren't home, you weren't going home." More than two feet blanketed the state, with drifts as much as eight times that height.

Gov. Grasso shut down the state for three days (including the interstate highways), and President Jimmy Carter declared Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts federal disaster areas, recalled The Hartford Courant in a retrospective published a year ago.   A contingent of 547 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, flew in to help National Guard crews clean up the mess and help the region slowly re-start daily routines that had been abruptly halted.connnatgrd

Snow fell at a rate of 4 inches an hour at times during the storm, which lasted for 36 hours, according to published reports. The unusual duration of the 1978 Nor’easter was caused by a Canadian high pressure system, which forced the storm to loop east and then back toward the north. Thunder, lightning and hail was seen in the blizzard as it blanketed the Northeast with over three feet of snow, and the shoreline was battered by high tides and hurricane force winds.

Two years ago, in early February 2013, a sizable blizzard rolled into New England which threatened to usurp the Blizzard of '78's place in the recent record books.  Despite heavy, sustained snowfall,  it didn't.

 Videos from CPTV and NBC News (with reports from John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Brian Ross and Robert Hager) highlight the Blizzard of  '78 in Connecticut.