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Sujata Srinivasan

Microfinance – or small-scale loans – has rapidly grown into an international business that connects investors with impoverished borrowers around the world. Currently, microfinance institutions (MFIs) operate in over 100 countries and fund more than 92 million borrowers, according to the Microfinance Information Exchange. For-profit firms like Stamford-based Developing World Markets (DWM) invest in MFIs in India, which in turn provide loans to poor entrepreneurs, primarily women.

Legislators appear to have stepped away for the minute from significant changes to tax advantaged retirement accounts in the latest attempt at a fiscal cliff fix. That’s welcome news for those who say right now most Americans don’t do enough to save for retirement. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Surveys consistently show that working for or owning a small business is a woefully bad way to plan for your golden years.

Harriet Jones

One group that didn’t get the Christmas present they were hoping for this year is the nation’s credit unions. They want to expand their lending to small businesses, but as Harriet Jones reports, regulation – and opposition from the banks -- stands in their way.

Many credit unions have a history of humble beginnings, and the Charter Oak credit union, based in Groton, is no exception.

“We were born in the Electric Boat boatyard, out of a lunchbox where five people put in $25.” 

Harriet Jones

A small Middletown company is about to double its workforce, as it signs a huge European export contract. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

“This is our demonstration room. So you’ll see the flags. All these flags represent countries that we’ve installed equipment to…”

Gerard Fenerty is something of a world traveler. In recent years he’s collected more than a few airmiles.

“First one was in El Salvador and the United Kingdom. Then we did business in Venezuela and Colombia. And we did a number of other countries in Europe – Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark…”

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The historic Colt complex in Hartford just got a new tenant. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. The Colt has been in development limbo for years, and it's gone through a series of developers. But things are looking up.

Harriet Jones

The Malloy administration has made a big commitment to nurture manufacturing in Connecticut, despite the fall off in employment in the sector over a period of decades. Are they right to place so much faith in making things here?  A new analysis attempts to answer that question.

The Naugatuck River Valley is one of the great seats of Connecticut’s manufacturing history. And Bill Purcell, president of the Valley Chamber of Commerce says that’s still relevant today.

It seems there’s no end to the negative consequences of the fiscal cliff. And just the latest to be highlighted is the chaos it’s about to cause for payroll managers. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

If there’s one thing taxes cause, it’s paperwork. In a little more than a week from now, payroll managers everywhere will have to start computing paychecks for employees for the new year. Trouble is, no-one knows how much tax we’ll be paying.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

It might come as a surprise that recycled garbage makes quite an impact on the state’s economy. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan takes a look at the sweet side of trash.

courtesy mberggr, Flickr Creative Commons

The state of Connecticut is offering financial incentives to small businesses to carry out research for large corporations. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the state is acting as a matchmaker for new projects

 

Innovation is expensive and often risky. It also requires many creative thinkers to get it working. That’s why increasingly many big technology-based corporations are looking for new partnerships and ways to outsource research and development functions.

courtesy Airport Data

 A new state initiative sees Connecticut’s airports as drivers of the economy. Bradley has been the model for this concept, and the vision may soon be replicated around the state.  WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

When Connecticut’s new quasi public Airport Authority was created last year, Governor Dannel Malloy gave it one, overriding mission – economic development.

Harriet Jones

While shoppers gear up for Black Friday – maybe even for the midnight doorbusters on Thanksgiving  – small businesses are hoping they won’t be forgotten in the holiday rush. This weekend marks the third annual Small Business Saturday. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

If you’re a regular traveler on I-95, the name Clinton might bring to mind the big outlet mall that looms over the highway near that town.

The National Flood Insurance Program promises help for businesses and homeowners caught in devastating weather events like Sandy. But it’s a huge burden on taxpayers, and some critics argue that it encourages building in flood-prone areas. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports on how new rate increases for the program might affect its future.

Nearly 40% of small businesses that sustain severe flood damage in natural disasters subsequently close down. Pop’s Grocery on Main Street in Bridgeport is struggling to stay off that list.

NASA

Storms like Sandy are a huge liability for homeowners, businesses, and insurers. And one forecast say future weather-related losses will increase by up to 30% in Northeast coastal regions. Now some are asking if the insurance market could be a new lever to mitigate weather-related risks. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports on the opportunities for green insurance products.

Harriet Jones

The nation’s growing deficit looms large over this election season, and once the vote is over, the winners will have to grapple with sequestration – a threatened across-the-board cut to federal budgets. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on what that might mean for Connecticut ’s defense jobs. 

Harriet Jones

Two polling places in Connecticut had to be moved for election day because of the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the switch may have affected turnout in at least one case.

Bridgeport and New London were the two towns that had to move a long-established polling place – in New London, the third district normally votes at Ocean Beach Park, but a ceiling collapse after the storm made the building unusable. Republican registrar of voters, Barbara Major.

CJSingh (Creative Commons)

Connecticut boasts about 34 wineries, each making their own varieties of wine. State law requires wineries to make their wines with at least 25 percent juice made from Connecticut-grown grapes. But there are suspicions that some vintners are skirting that law, and that is making some growers who are complying with the law angry. Hartford Advocate senior staff writer Gregory Hladky broke the story, and he joins us by phone.

Sujata Srinivasan

If you’re a business owner affected by Superstorm Sandy, you may be eligible for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports from a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Bridgeport.

Harriet Jones

As Connecticut gets back on its feet in the wake of Sandy, job number one for many small businesses is just to be able to open their doors once again. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, in some hard hit shoreline communities, that’s a challenge.

Monday morning, as Sandy bore down on the tri-state coastline, some businesses defied the oncoming weather. In downtown Mystic, Wide World of Bagels was one of the few stores that still had power and owner Nicole Denkis was running to keep up with all the additional customers.

courtesy, Governor's office

Governor Dannel Malloy has appealed for patience as restoration efforts continue after Hurricane Sandy. The governor toured affected shoreline communities Wednesday. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

 

Governor Malloy began his tour in Stonington, battered by intense winds and flooded by storm surge during Sandy. Part of the town dock, home to the state’s only commercial fishing fleet, was washed away.

 

“’You got pounded huh?’

Harriet Jones

Southeastern shoreline towns are cleaning up and assessing damage after the hurricane, which brought a record storm surge. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Outside his Stonington home, Gary Giramonti is wading through several feet of water.

“We left Monday morning, and just came back this morning after a neighbor said, called and told us you need to get back”

The structure, which faces Fishers’ Island sound is still standing, but the interior has been turned upside down.

Just as many households prepared for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, so too did employers. But what’s the evidence that businesses have learned anything from the natural disasters Connecticut experienced last year? WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

University towns face a unique challenge in fostering a successful downtown business environment. And perhaps none more so than the rural town of Mansfield, dwarfed by UConn’s massive Storrs campus. But the town is hopeful that a decade’s worth of work to construct an entirely new downtown will shortly come to fruition. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

graciepoo (Flickr Creative Commons)

After two decades, casino gambling in Connecticut has become a regular part of life here. Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun bring in visitors from around the country and they’re two of the biggest casinos in the world.

The state relies on them for revenue, which comes from those who lose money while gambling. They’re also bigtime entertainment destinations for area residents.

We’ll talk to the authors of two very different books about Connecticut’s casinos.

Harriet Jones

Training the workforce of the future requires a lot of foresight about which new technologies will succeed in the long run. Connecticut wants to make an investment in green jobs, according to a new report, and its technical high schools are writing a new curriculum to suit. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

If you’re planning to buy or sell a house, changes are on the way. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the tightening of mortgage lending rules mean the industry is in the process of being turned upside down. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

It’s been a turbulent period for the mortgage industry and four years after the financial crisis, the debates are still going on.

Manufacturing Mania!

Oct 8, 2012
Harriet Jones

Manufacturing might be a tiny part of the economy these days but the state of Connecticut is making the case that it’s vital to the future. This has been declared Manufacturing Month, and today hundreds of school kids descended on a new show in Hartford designed to showcase the industry.

Welcome to Manufacturing Mania, the kick off for Connecticut’s month long celebration of the industry that’s defined its past, but struggles these days to stay in the public eye.

Harriet Jones

The Malloy administration’s new energy overhaul is winning both plaudits and protests. The centerpiece of the policy is a huge investment in natural gas infrastructure, and as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it has implications for many businesses in the state.

Governor Dannel Malloy says his new energy policy reframes an old debate.

“It used to be that you could only be pro-business or pro-environment. Let me say clearly that I reject that as a false choice.”

Chion Wolf

We recently learned about the 40 “fastest-growing” tech companies in the state. The list includes bio-science, IT, manufacturing, and green technology firms. Matt Nemerson of the Connecticut Technology Council says the list is a kind of guide to a new economy for the state.

Matthew Bevin returned to his family's historic bell making business in 2008. It was running at a loss, and Matt's uncle was about to sell the last bell factory in East Hampton.  Bevin, who is a serial entrepreneur in his own right, turned the business around within a year. In 2010 and 2011, Bevin Brothers, a 180 year old five-generation family business, turned a profit. 

Harriet Jones

It’s time for additional hiring in some industries, as we head into the holiday season. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports on the outlook for seasonal employment this year.

Connecticut retailers are cautiously optimistic at what could be a promising holiday season. A key indicator, the Consumer Confidence Index measured by the Conference Board rose nine points this September, rebounding to levels seen earlier in February. Timothy Phelan is president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association.

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