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Small Business

WNPR’s small business coverage elevates understanding of the challenges faced by small business, educates policy-makers, and highlights the vital role of small business to the state’s economy. 

Bridgeport Small Business Breakfast

May 4, 2011

Connecticut lawmakers have passed a new, two year budget that raises taxes - and is counting on union concessions.  What will it mean for small business?

creative commons

Workplace expert Al Bhatt says our places of employment should be made up of jazz bands, rather than a marching band.

Bhatt’s done consulting work for big companies like Facebook, Siemens, American Express, and State Farm Insurance.

Now Facebook, I can see them being pretty improvisational...but an insurance company?  

Today, in advance of our “small business breakfast” tomorrow in Bridgeport, we’re going to look at the changing workplace in big businesses, and how they’re adapting to a new workforce.  

Harriet Jones

WNPR’s Small Business Project has reported on the high cost of training a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the state and the nation.

This week Harriet Jones visits a small business in Connecticut that’s working on providing a cost-effective and innovative solution to that problem.

I’m in East Hartford at the premises of a company called VRSim, getting a lesson on how to spray paint a vehicle door, from Rebecca McKnight.

“So I’ll do a quick spray for you.”

Harriet Jones

For many small businesses, training Connecticut’s workforce is a key issue for the state’s economic future. That’s one reason why Governor Malloy’s recent proposal to move the state’s technical high schools into municipal control raised so many eyebrows. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at how well Connecticut is planning to meet its workforce needs in the new millennium.

You might think in an economy like this, employers with a job to fill would be inundated with qualified candidates.

It can cost small businesses between $5,000 and $10,000 just to administer their tax returns each year. That’s the finding of a new survey, which calls for radical improvements to the tax code. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The National Small Business Association conducted a survey of its members on how much time and money it takes them to comply with the federal tax code.

“The tax code is incredibly complex”

Photo: bodycoach2, Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a business from scratch is a mammoth undertaking. Starting a business in the midst of a bad economy might seem like an impossible task. But entrepreneurship traditionally spikes in any recession – and this latest downturn was no exception. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Christina Kazanas used to be the principal grantwriter for the City of Stratford. Her friend Rebekah Harriman wrote grants for the City of Bridgeport.

J. Holt, WNPR

Connecticut’s marine industry is one of many facing tax increases in governor Malloy’s proposed budget. But those in the industry say the changes could have unintended consequences. 

Early April is a quiet time for boating here in Connecticut. Most pleasure boats are still tucked under winter covers, but for Connecticut boatyards this is just as important a time of year as any other.

At pilot’s point marina in Westbrook, Rives Potts is inspecting a 46 foot sailboat that his yard has been rebuilding in one of their sheds.

Harriet Jones

Over the next year or so, Pfizer will lay off more than a thousand people in Connecticut. If most of these highly skilled workers leave the state it’s estimated the hit to the local economy could be more than $100 million annually. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on the prospects for retaining some of these skills by growing new small businesses.

In a two thousand square foot former restaurant in New London you can catch a glimpse of what a homegrown biotech industry might look like in this part of the state.

Harriet Jones

The state’s main economic development agency gets a new chief this week. On Thursday, insurance executive Catherine Smith will take up her post as Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. As she prepared for her new role, she sat down with WNPR’s Harriet Jones.

Many people might feel daunted by the challenge that Catherine Smith has taken on. But she says when the call came from Governor Dannel Malloy, she didn’t hesitate.

Flickr Creative Commons, Hampton Roads Partnership

On today's show we're going to look at the elaborate networks -- pipeline is too straight and straightforward a word -- that exist in Connecticut to nurture new businesses -- which came to be called, in the last two decades -- "start ups."

WNPR’s Small Business Project is taking an in-depth look at the health care crisis facing small employers. In the second of our two reports, WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on what’s being done to address the problem.

Almost everything about health care reform is controversial. But one thing everyone does agree on. It’s time to act.

One of the biggest financial concerns most small businesses face is providing health care. This week, WNPR’s Small Business Project is taking a two-part look at the health care crisis facing small employers. In the first of her reports, Harriet Jones talks to the businesses that are feeling the pinch.

Adchem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester is a very successful Connecticut small business, employing 35 people.

STEPHEN DUNN / HARTFORD COURANT

Incubator Assists Small Businesses in New Haven

Mar 7, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Connecticut Innovations

Connecticut doesn’t yet have a reputation as a breeding ground for new high-tech companies, but there are efforts underway to change that image.  In 2008, Connecticut Innovations introduced the CTech Incubator Program. WNPR’s Andrew Huston reports on some of the companies growing there.

Harriet Jones

Tourism is vital industry for Connecticut, generating some $14 billion in visitor spending each year. Small businesses are the mainstay of the sector. But as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, many are worried about the future.

Governor Dannel Malloy says he gets it on tourism.

“We’re going to rethink in its entirety our approach to tourism—we’re going to work where partnerships work and we’re not going to carry partnerships that don’t work.”

Harriet Jones

Many communities around Connecticut rely on small businesses to provide essential, basic services. For WNPR’s latest small business profile, Harriet Jones visited a home-based daycare in Hamden that’s helping children and parents alike.

Morning exercise is all part of the routine at Every Child Ahead in Hamden.

“I just care for them like they’re my children, and I think that’s why I keep my daycare full.”

Harriet Jones

If Connecticut is to have an engaged and productive workforce it must have reliable childcare. Childcare comes in many different forms, but an increasing number of providers are small, home-based businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

In a tiny condo in Hamden, Lushanna Thompson is allowing her small charges to let off some steam.

Aplicare

Getting into the international market can be both exciting and challenging for a business. It offers the chance for new customers and growth, but it’s also a steep learning curve. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited one Meriden firm that’s sending Connecticut-made medical products all around the world, and bringing work back from overseas.

“So this is our production floor. We have 21 production lines, that are operating on two shifts….”

Helping Small Businesses With Energy Costs

Feb 16, 2011

Governor Dannel Malloy announced today a pilot program to help small businesses pay for energy costs. 

Last year President Obama challenged the nation’s businesses to double their exports within 5 years. Connecticut has been responding to that call, and as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, small business has been a key part of the effort.

Exporting—selling products overseas—is complex and often challenging. It may not seem to be a natural fit for a small business. Not so, says economist Peter Gioia of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Harriet Jones

Manufacturing used to be a mainstay of employment in Connecticut. Competition from lower-cost states and overseas production has decimated the industry. But small manufacturers persist in the state and are finding ways to survive. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited one shop in Milford for our latest small business profile.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut has around 5,000 manufacturing companies. You may be picturing Pratt & Whitney or Electric Boat, but of course the vast majority of manufacturers are small businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at the challenges facing those firms in a shrinking industry.

It’s a typically busy day on the shop floor at Prestige Manufacturing in Milford. Ken Dugan has run this business for 27 years.

Harriet Jones

We hear all the time that small businesses are having trouble accessing credit. But sometimes it’s hard to picture what that means both for an individual firm, and for the wider economy. To find out more, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited a construction company that’s currently rehabbing several old homes in Middletown.

Cash is the lifeblood of any small business, and access to financing can be a critical factor in whether a small enterprise can grow and thrive. Businesses need credit to hire and to make capital investments. It may sometimes seem as if the chips are stacked against them.

For 17 years, Joe Petti ran a small manufacturing firm, Delaney Engineering in Milford. He says one of the biggest issues he faced growing his company was dealing with the banks.

courtesy Larry Berk

“Buy local” has become a rallying cry for small businesses attempting to revive the high street. But it’s also a good message for those small businesses whose customers are big business. Plenty of small suppliers in Connecticut would like to see big corporations and state government look first in their own backyard when they spend money.

For the latest of WNPR’s small business profiles, business reporter Harriet Jones met with one such small supplier. 

Harriet Jones

This year, WNPR’s Small Business Project is taking apart what it means to be a small business owner. As part of our coverage we’re showcasing the huge diversity of the state’s small businesses and what they’re accomplishing. Most businesses start very, very small—even at the kitchen table. For the first of our small business profiles, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visits a tiny commercial kitchen in Griswold.

Jennifer Chominski is spending the morning pressing out piecrust for her baking business, Gracie Mae’s Kitchen.

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