WNPR

Hiring Is Up, But Small Businesses Want More From Their State Legislators

Jul 25, 2016

The state’s largest business organization recently released its first survey exclusively aimed at small businesses. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association's survey found that hiring was up, but it also found small businesses have some bones to pick with their state legislators.

Pete Gioia is an economist with CBIA. He said companies of 50 or fewer employees represent 95 percent of all businesses in Connecticut.

And of the small businesses who responded to the survey, nearly two-thirds of them communicated with their state legislators. But a large majority of them were not confident that they could count on legislators for help.

"When you have such a lack of confidence that legislators are going to act consistently and predictably," Gioia said, "it’s very hard to make investments. We know a lot of companies are investing, but they’re investing in operations that they have outside of the state. And even a lot of these small businesses have operations in other states, or in other countries."

State Representative William Tong of Stamford and Darien said he doesn't blame the small business people. 

"I think they have a right to be skeptical, and a reason to raise that issue," he said. "And so I think the small businesspeople in that survey who express their concerns—they’re right. And what we need to do is answer that concern by focusing on Connecticut 500."

Connecticut 500 is a project to bring business people—including those running small businesses— together with legislators, and municipal officials.

It sets some audacious, long-term goals, including creating 500 new startup businesses based on intellectual property developed in the state, and creating 500,000 new private sector jobs in the next 25 years. 

Tong is leading the project, and he says he also agrees that small businesses need to be able to count on state legislators to work on improving the business climate, and he says Connecticut 500 is a way to demand that state government turn things around.