New study quantifies Connecticut green industry’s economic impact

Green industry press conference at the Capitol, Friday, February 7, 2020. From left to right: ARE MS student Christopher Laughton; Maggie Bridge, Sam Bridge Nursery and CNLA board member; CAHNR Dean Indrajeet Chaubey; Dustyn Nelson, president, CNLA and CAHNR alumnus; Commissioner of Agriculture Bryan Hurlburt. Photo by Bonnie Burr.

A just-released report by CAHNR’s Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy, Impact of the Green Industry on Connecticut’s Economy, highlights the economic importance of ornamental horticulture in our state.

“While every sector of the agriculture industry is important to the economy of Connecticut, ornamental horticulture currently accounts for more than half of the state’s agricultural sales,” says Rigoberto Lopez, Richard DelFavero Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE). “The green industry should be recognized properly as an integral part of Connecticut’s agriculture.”

Chris Laughton, ARE master’s candidate and director of knowledge exchange at Farm Credit East, completed the project as an independent study under the supervision of Lopez. Laughton brings his own horticultural and business experience to the project, having worked in his family nursery business and having earned a degree in horticulture from Cornell and an MBA from UMass Amherst.

The study was requested and funded by the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association (CNLA), with input from Extension Educator Victoria Wallace and CNLA president and legislative board coordinator Dustyn Nelson.

The total economic impact to the state from the green industry totaled $4.7 billion in 2017. This data is based on year-end 2017, the last census year for the USDA Census of Agriculture. “It’s a significant contribution to the economy of Connecticut,” Laughton says.

“This report has helped legitimize the green industry as a viable career path for not only the younger generation but all who share a passion for plants,” says Nelson.

The study looks at three components of economic impact: direct effects (sales and employment); indirect effects (spending by industry businesses); and induced effects (spending by owners and employees of these firms).

The study accounted for different sectors of the green industry, including floriculture; nursery and sod production; lawn and garden equipment manufacturing; landscape construction and maintenance; landscape architectural services; lawn and garden machinery and equipment wholesalers; flower, nursery stock, and florist supply wholesalers; lawn and garden equipment; and supply retailers.

The green industry supported 43,000 jobs in the state, more than Yale and Hartford Hospital combined; Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino together; Aetna; or General Dynamics, proof positive that the industry plays an important role in the state’s economy.

It’s important to note that these statistics do not include the intrinsic value provided such as environmental improvements and lifestyle benefits.

“Not only does this department’s partnership with industry fulfill the needs of Connecticut businesses, it allows us to mentor students, involving them in real-world problems,” Lopez says. “Moving forward, these graduates provide in-house research knowledge to their employers within the industry, fulfilling the CAHNR academic mission.”

“UConn Extension plays a vital role in connecting industry to other business segments to help develop the economy in our state,” Nelson notes.

A similar but much larger impact study funded by Farm Credit East, on the economic impacts of agriculture, fisheries, and forestry in eight Northeastern states, is currently underway by Lopez, Laughton and Ph.D. student Jeremy Jelliffe.

Read the study at

By Kim Colavito Markesich