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Chion Wolf/WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy presented his plan to close the state’s $3.2 billion budget gap to a joint session of the state legislature today. 

Budget Day

Feb 16, 2011
Chion Wolf, WNPR

Budget day at the Connecticut capitol used to be like Christmas morning…you were never sure what you’d be getting.

Sure, like with Santa Claus you had a pretty good idea.  I mean you’d been dropping hints for months.  But, the final budget presented by the governor always included a hint of surprise.

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. 

Thomas McMillan, New Haven Independent

A pilot landing at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks hears a roaring noise just above his plane, but checks his traffic alert system and sees nothing in the area.

“Do you have traffic on top of us?” he asks an airport controller. The response is matter-of-fact but chilling: The plane has entered an area of “heavy military operations,” with a pair of F-15 fighter jets that departed nearby Barnes Municipal Airport coming close enough to deem the incident an “NMAC,” or near midair collision, a January 2010 report says.

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.

Chion Wolf Photo

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.

Diane Orson

Chion Wolf/WNPR

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra took over last summer after Eddie Perez was found guilty of corruption and resigned his office. Now Segarra is running for mayor, and he says Perez’s political allies are targeting him. Segarra appeared on WNPR’s Where We Live with John Dankosky. He suggested that efforts by at least one of his opponents, State Representative Kelvin Roldan, have the feel of Perez politics.

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.

Abeeeer photo via Flickr Creative Commons

It started with a flub by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.  It wasn't a big deal. As one of his spokespeple suggested, even the substitution of the word "era" for "days" would have helped his cause quite a bit. Most other politicians would not have been called on this, but, for Blumenthal, it fits kind of a narrative some people have about him.

Snow Damages Farm Buildings, Some Animals Killed

Feb 9, 2011
Diane Miller

Front Street in Court

Feb 8, 2011
Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The retail development known as Front Street in Hartford is finally built and looking for tenants.  But the project took years to materialize, and now it's in court.

Front Street is a publicly-subsidized development that was geared to attract area people to downtown Hartford and the adjacent Connecticut Convention Center.  Here’s how George Royster puts it. He's an attorney for the state:

“Because people coming to Hartford with no place to go would not be likely to return to the convention center or the hotel if they had no entertainment or retail or places to eat.”

Foxtongue photo via Flickr Creative Commons

What's the impact on the state pension fund when a low-paid legislator moves to a high-paid administration job? We like this piece on "pension spikes" from a policy blog

But maybe it doesn't matter, because we're not really making any serious attempt to fund that whole system.

New Haven Considers Giving Up the Bottle

Feb 8, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Clean Streets Versus Clean Water

Feb 8, 2011
Monica Brady-Myerov

There has been an historic amount of snowfall around the Northeast.  So far in Hartford, at least 80 inches have fallen.

The extreme snowfall has pitted disposing snow against protecting the water.  Many cities in the Northeast have run out of space to put the snow and are asking for permission to dump it in waterways. As part of a collaboration with northeast stations, Monica Brady-Myerov of WBUR reports.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is taking the city's schools superintendent to task for issuing a series of bonuses to district employees. Segarra says he understands the bonuses total about $2.7 million -- a figure that seemed to frustrated the mayor of this cash-strapped city. In a letter to Superintendent Steven Adamowski, Segarra said he wants to know why these bonuses were issued, what criteria was used in a awarding them, and who approved them.

Nancy Eve Cohen

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.

No Good Place to Put the Snow

Feb 4, 2011
Flickr Creative Commons, Charles Jeffrey Danoff

Record-setting snowfall, sub-zero temperatures and treacherous travel conditions have meant plenty of missed school days this year.  Educators are worried that lost classroom time may affect preparation for standardized tests. 

State Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy says he’s seen school closings, late openings and early dismissals in other years, "but this is really beyond what we’ve seen ever.  And it couldn’t happen at a worse time in our high schools, when we have our end of course exams" 

Despite Snow, Spring Will Be Early, Says Groundhog

Feb 3, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

After days of shoveling and scraping Connecticut residents may be happy to hear there’s been a prediction for an early spring. It came from Connecticut’s official state groundhog.

The Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester takes in wild animals that have been injured. Including a female groundhog who bears the weighty title, "Connecticut Chuckles the Seventh". Early this morning she went outside, sniffed the air and looked around, but did not see her shadow, according to Bob Eckerd, the executive director of the museum.

Will New Jobs Save Connecticut's Budget?

Feb 1, 2011
Flickr Creative Commons, smemon87

Diane Orson

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano says changes to city pension plans are urgently needed to keep from bankrupting the funds.  

He says New Haven is facing a growing budget gap.

"Over four years the next year this is a total budget gap of $309 million. The largest single expenditure item contributing to that gap is the increasing city contribution to our two pension plans."

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.

Bringing Farmers and Chefs to the Table

Feb 1, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture convened a meeting today to introduce farmers to chefs looking for local food. As WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the agency held a kind of “speed dating” exercise to bring people together.

“30 seconds left! 30 seconds left!”

A clang of a cow-bell moves the participants from table to table. About two thirds are from restaurants, hospitals and food distributors. One third are harvesters and farmers, like Alysson Angelini from Jones Family Farms.

Winter Markets Help Northeast Farmers Survive

Jan 31, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Farmers markets have seen huge growth in the past three decades. They give consumers access to local food, sometimes at a lower price. And farmers can sell without a middleman getting a cut.

Now, some markets now run through the entire winter. As part of a collaboration of Northeast stations WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the number of winter-long markets have doubled, tripled... even quadrupled in some states.

A census on domestic violence services offered in Connecticut shows the need for them has grown in the last year.  

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

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