Stamford: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Traditionally, Stamford has been known for its corporate headquarters, manufacturing, retail and research activities. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, southwestern Connecticut blossomed, its real estate growing ever more attractive as the cost of doing business in New York City skyrocketed. By 1990, most of the city's downtown had been demolished and replaced by corporate headquarters. Like many areas of the Northeast, Stamford experienced higher vacancy rates and a slowdown in construction early in the 1990s, but by the dawn of the new century it was experiencing a tight market with low vacancy rates.

Stamford boasts an extraordinarily diverse economic base, and serves as the business center of Fairfield County. Many major U.S. companies have located their corporate headquarters in Stamford. Midway through the 2000s, Stamford remains a top-five city in the U.S. in terms of concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters in the country, as firms moved to the city citing lower costs of doing business and a higher quality of life. The area continues to have relatively low unemployment and continued growth was expected as more and more companies continued to grow in and relocate to the city. Among the firms located in Stamford are General Electric Capital Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Clairol, Xerox Corporation, Champion International, Gartner Group, Omega Engineering, Cadbury Beverages, Circon/ACMI, General RE Corporation, Hyperion Software, and Diaggio/United Distillers. Stamford is also home to Warburg Dillon Read, a Swiss-based international investment bank.

Stamford remains the major retail center of Fairfield County; a sizable portion of its labor force is employed in wholesale and retail trade. Research and development activities center around industrial research in chemicals, the electrical and optical fields, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. In addition, precision manufacturing maintained a significant presence in Stamford.

As of 2005, Stamford had more than 15 million square feet of office space rented, with additional space planned for the near future.

Items and goods produced: chemicals, computer software and microprocessors, electrical and electronic equipment, drugs, cosmetics, machinery, aircraft, metals, die casting, and apparel and textile products

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Southwestern Area Commerce and Industry Association (SACIA) is the designated Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for Stamford, serving start-up and small businesses. SBDCs offer technical and management assistance, counseling, education, and training programs. Qualified companies can take advantage of Federal Enterprise Zone benefits in Stamford. In addition to Stamford's already advantageous tax structure and rents as much as 50 percent lower than Manhattan rates, firms can qualify for significant corporate tax abatements under the Enterprise Zone and the Urban Jobs Program. Stamford was also named a Brownfields Showcase Community to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative activity on developing lands contaminated by industrial activity.

State programs

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development develops and implements strategies to attract and retain businesses and jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and communities, ensure quality housing and foster appropriate development in Connecticut's towns and cities. Programs and services include loans and loan guarantees to manufacturers and job-providers, loans to women- and minority-owned businesses, planning and development services for industrial parks programs, tax credits for investments in Connecticut insurance firms, small business assistance, export assistance, and more.

Job training programs

Both on- and off-site and on-thejob training assistance is available through the Connecticut Department of Labor. Seventeen community and technical colleges across the state offer job and specialized skill training. The Connecticut Development Authority offers prime rate loans for Connecticut manufacturers to become more competitive by enhancing their employees' skills through training and development. The CDA pays 25 percent of the amount borrowed from a participating lender to invest in training, up to a maximum of $25,000. The State Department of Economic & Community Development provides counseling, job training programs, technical information and financing to help start-up and growing companies.

Development Projects

Well underway by 2005, the Mill River Corridor Project involves the creation of approximately 19 acres of new parkland along both sides of the Rippowam River and extending into downtown. The park is just the first part of a planned re-development of downtown that is expected to bring an additional $5 million in extra tax revenue annually upon completion.

The Gateway District Project was created to assemble the site for the relocation of the North American headquarters of the company now known as UBS Warburg (Swiss Bank) to Stamford. In all 12 acres of land had to be acquired and more than 20 buildings demolished to accommodate the 560,000 square-foot headquarters, which covers four city blocks in the heart of downtown and employs approximately 4,000 people.

In 2004 Stamford became one of the first major urban centers to lure a major retail store, in this case Target, to a five-story downtown location. If the store thrives the move could entice other traditionally-suburban retailers to try a downtown location, much to the surprise of industry insiders. Other downtown retail developments include a 126,000 square foot Burlington Coat Factory, and another 150,000 square feet of retail space at the Grayrock Place housing development.

Other housing projects are well underway downtown. In 2004 Stamford-based Stillwater Corp. broke ground on a 92-unit condominium project called Riverhouse with a planned occupancy date of June 2005, which was when ground was broken for another 83-unit luxury condominium development called High Grove.

Economic Development Information: Stamford Office of Economic Development, 9th Floor, Government Center, Stamford, CT; telephone (203)977-5089. Southwestern Area Commerce and Industry Association (SACIA), Ste. 230, One Landmark Square, Stamford, CT 06901-2679; telephone (203)359-3220. State Department of Economic and Community Development, 505 Hudson Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106-7107; telephone (888)860-4628; Connecticut Development Authority, (860)258-7800

Commercial Shipping

Stamford is served by Conrail and a vast trucking fleet which makes use of the many federal and state highways that crisscross the city. Freight arrives by air at the New York City airports and is trucked into Stamford. All of the major national and international freight and shipping companies operate in the area.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Stamford citizens are highly educated; the city had the highest percentage of college graduates in the metropolitan area comprised of Connecticut's Fairfield County and parts of New York and New Jersey. The city's public school system turns out well-educated graduates; in fact, "Ladies Home Journal" ranked Stamford's public school system fourth among the nation's top 200 cities. Stamford's unemployment rate typically remains well below national averages. Employment gains tend to be centered in the services sector. The work force tends to be well trained and educated, which is not surprising given the technical nature of the products manufactured and the demands of the service sector. Stamford employers benefit from proximity to Yale University and other schools that provide consultation as well as education.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk NECTA metropolitan area labor force based on 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 409,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 14,400

manufacturing: 41,800

trade, transportation, and utilities: 74,900

information: 12,100

financial activities: 41,700

business and professional services: 69,600

educational and health services: 59,500

leisure and hospitality: 32,500

other services: 16,800

government: 46,400

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $19.08 (April, 2005)

Unemployment rate: 4.9% (March 2005)

Stamford: Economy

Largest private employers Number of employees
Pitney Bowes, Inc. 3,058
UBS Warburg, Dillon, Reed 2,900
General Electric Capital Corporation 2,000
Stamford Town Center 2,000
Clairol, Inc. 1,300
Gartner Group 1,100
General Reinsurance Corp. 889

Cost of Living

Housing costs and other cost of living factors are high in Stamford and in its surrounding metropolitan area.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Stamford area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $614,691

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 153.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 4.5% (corporate business tax rate: 7.5%)

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $29.16 per $1,000 of assessed value (2005)

Economic Information: Stamford Department of Economic Development, 9th Floor, Government Center, Stamford, CT; telephone (203)977-5089