small business

Can Small Be Revolutionary, Too?

Jun 27, 2012
Sarah Miner

 Tourism in Connecticut seems to revolve around a few big names. The Seaport, the Aquarium, and the casinos. These are prominently featured in the state’s new marketing campaign. But the industry is also sustained by hundreds of small businesses – inns, restaurants and small attractions. They’re wondering if they’ll get a fair shake in this new focus on state marketing. 

J Holt

Late last week it looked certain that Hartford's last remaining duckpin bowling center would close, as its owner faced mounting expenses and changing priorities. But one day after a last ditch effort to save Highland Bowl failed, the historic business experienced a dramatic turnaround. WNPR's J Holt was there.

Sujata Srinivasan

It’s been about six months since Connecticut issued its first loan under the Small Business Express program. The aid package has proved wildly popular with business owners in the state, but as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it’s raised some questions along the way.

What do a printing firm, a financial services company, a hardware store and a biomedical device maker have in common? They all qualify for funding under the state’s small business express program.

Job Creation

Jun 12, 2012
Seattle Municipal Archives

Politicians often promise to create new jobs if you elect them...but who really “creates” jobs anyway?

I mean, as a business owner, you know you’re doing well if you’ve got enough business to actually hire more people to do work.  But the motivation of the business is to create “profits” for yourself, your family, maybe your shareholders...not simply to put people to work.

So a politician who touts his or her credentials as a “job creator” is usually talking about being a “profit creator” who sometimes hires more people - and sometimes lays people off.

Chion Wolf

There’s a few ways to think about how to spur economic growth in a city. One way is through the “big bang” theory - you know, the kind of project that inspires city leaders and residents alike with dreams and promises of “revitalization.” It’s something Hartford experienced during the building of Adrian’s Landing.  

A splashy convention center - a science center - a brand new shopping area.

Sometimes those developments work - look at West Hartford’s BlueBack Square as an example.

Courtesy Tigerplish, Flickr Creative Commons

You’d think most entrepreneurs would follow the Facebook formula for success. Take an idea, bankroll it with venture capital, and float an initial public offering worth billions of dollars. But that’s not what every start-up wants. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports.

Sunday Sales Begin In Connecticut

May 21, 2012
Harriet Jones

For many package stores in Connecticut, this is the morning after. They’re tallying up the take from their first ever day of Sunday sales. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

They knew it was coming, but up until last week, package store owners didn’t know exactly when.

“It’s done….”

Harriet Jones

Some Connecticut state agencies have a horrible reputation among the businesses that use them. The way they implement regulation is seen as onerous, confusing and above all, expensive. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on an effort to change that.

If you cast your mind back to the 2010 gubernatorial election, you’ll remember that state agencies and the conduct of state government took a kicking in the debates.

The legislative session just past made some major changes in the state of Connecticut. It abolished the death penalty, established Sunday alcohol sales, legalized medical marijuana and began a process of reform of the education system. But what was in it for the business community? WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The dust is beginning to settle on the short session that finished last week, and reflection is beginning.

“From the small business perspective I think honestly there’s not much that was achieved.”

Deans from 21 top business schools around the world will gather today in New Haven. Yale University will host the first meeting of a new global network for business education.

The international focus of the Global Network for Advanced Management is something totally new in the business school world, says Edward Snyder, Dean of the Yale School of Management.  

war.ti: on Flickr Creative Commons

Entrepreneurs all over the country are buzzing about crowdfunding. A new federal law will make it possible for small companies to attract investors online. But not everyone in Connecticut is thrilled about the new rules. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Earlier this month President Obama signed into law the JOBS Act, a measure with rare bipartisan support.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s realtors are throwing their weight behind the effort to allow small businesses to buy into the state’s health insurance pool. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

About 600 realtors gathered at the Capitol Thursday to lobby legislators about a range of issues. But Bob Kimball, the president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors says one issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind has little to do with the housing market – health insurance.

Connecticut is a step closer to Sunday alcohol sales, after a key committee voted in favor of the measure. But the bill leaves in place many protections for small package stores worried about sweeping deregulation. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This has been one of the consuming issues in this short legislative session – one that prompted a marathon 12-hour public hearing before the General Law Committee. Republic state Senator John Kissell said it was an extraordinary day.

Harriet Jones

A new bill before the legislature aims to provide more options for small businesses purchasing health insurance. But as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it looks likely to stir up significant controversy.

Carolyn Malon runs a dental practice with her husband in Farmington.

“Every day in my own practice, I see the challenges that patients, self-employed people and small employers have in assessing good quality insurance coverage.”

As a small business owner she’s backing new legislation to increase access to health coverage for a very personal reason.

Harriet Jones

In the past, attempts to reform Connecticut’s blue laws have been dominated by one simple issue – Sunday alcohol sales. But the bill before the legislature this year takes the debate much further. And it has the package store industry in uproar. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Here at the Legislative Office Building with the session in full swing, many of the conversations are about one thing.

“This has been such a significant issue in the building.”

Photo by Chion Wolf

A 2004 law requires a certain percentage of federal contracting dollars to go to small businesses owned by service disabled veterans. But a recent inspector's report from the Department of Defense finds that in 2010, more than two dozen contracts were awarded to companies that weren't eligible.  

Sujata Srinivasan

Connecticut Innovations has a new chief executive officer in charge of a potential merger and a much larger investment portfolio. Claire Leonardi spoke to WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan on how she plans to shake up the organization.

Claire Leonardi brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry to her new job as CEO of Connecticut Innovations – or CI – a state-funded organization in Rocky Hill that invests in advanced technology ventures.

Harriet Jones

  We’re told the economic recovery is gaining pace, but some businesses are still finding it hard to keep their footing in this changed economic landscape. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on one high profile business failure in Connecticut this week.

The tills are ringing briskly at North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook, but that’s because bargains are flying off the shelves in a liquidation sale. Regular customer Mike Campbell summed up the mood.

Harriet Jones

The Grote & Weigel meat processing company has been saved from closure and 40 people will retain their jobs at the Bloomfield institution. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

News this week that the book world will soon mark the end of an era. Roxanne Coady, doyenne of independent booksellers, is putting up the “for sale” sign on her creation, RJ Julia. The store has been a fixture in Madison for more than 20 years. WNPR’s Harriet Jones went to visit.

You only need walk in the front door at RJ Julia to know this is Roxanne Coady’s mission. Coady left a lucrative corporate career when she was turning 40 to begin this personal passion. Now 22 years later, she says it’s time to move on again.

The General Assembly reconvenes later this week for a session that looks to be jam-packed with issues. The state’s largest business organization says lawmakers will have a difficult balancing act. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

The City of Stamford hopes to attract high-tech entrepreneurs with a new initiative to convert its Old Town Hall into a business incubator. 

Stamford’s gracious, marble-lined Old Town Hall occupies some prime real estate in the center of town, but it hasn’t served as a hub for the town since the 1960s. Now it’s bustling once again.

“It’s a center of gravity and it works for the whole community.”


Feb 6, 2012
Shai Barzilay (Flickr Creative Commons)

Investment options are endless...Apple, Walmart, Starbucks, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil...but how about countless numbers of local startups around the country?

They might not be the most obvious investment choice. But many people call small business the backbone of our economy and the cornerstone of our communities.

So why aren’t we investing more in them?

Today, a look at investing locally or what our guest and author Amy Cortese calls locavesting. Her book looks at this new movement and explains how to profit from it.

Harriet Jones

The owner of Grote & Weigel says he’s still hopeful of finding a buyer for the troubled meat processing company. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones, the historic Bloomfield firm is due to shut its doors in less than two weeks.

The smokehouses at Grote & Weigel’s Bloomfield headquarters are still running, for now.

“We’re reaching a point where we’re running out of meat now and we’re running out of casings and all the other supplies we need to make the hotdogs.”

Harriet Jones

Connecticut Senate Democrats say they want to tweak the jobs bill that passed in last fall’s special session, in order to make it more effective for businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Senate leaders chose the shopfloor of a successful Connecticut manufacturing business to make this announcement, Adchem Manufacturing Technologies in Manchester. Senate President Don Williams.

Harriet Jones

A Connecticut company is partnering with NASA and Harvard University in an initiative that it hopes will bring a whole new level of efficiency to the federal government. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Topcoder, based in Glastonbury, was founded just ten years ago, but in that decade it’s become something of  a touchstone in the tech community.

“The idea that nobody is as smart as everybody is catching on now.”

Harriet Jones

The state of Connecticut has made its first loan under the small business express package. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it comes just days after questions were raised about the program’s paperwork problems.

Scott DeFelice CEO of Oxford Performance Materials shows Governor Dannel Malloy the new equipment his company has invested in since moving into this new South Windsor facility in August.  Malloy is here because Oxford is the first company to get a loan under the state’s small business express package.

jimg944, creative commons

It’s already in place in New York - a grading system for restaurants. Soon, Hartford diners will find out if their favorite hotspot makes the grade.

This new grading system is also in place in Stamford, Norwalk, and the Farmington Valley.  How does it work?

Starting this month, Hartford health inspectors will begin checking each of the city’s 1,300 restaurants for cleanliness and safety. Following the inspections, restaurants must display their letter grades - “A” or “B.”  But there’s no, C, D...or a “For God’s sake don’t eat here.” Why not?  

Sujata Srinivasan

Last year’s jobs bill set aside $100 million as a loan pool to help small businesses grow and create jobs. It’s dubbed the Small Business Express Package, and applicants were promised a quick turnaround. State officials have been touring the state to explain the program to businesses that might benefit. But as WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports, they have yet to finalize a loan.

Unemployed veterans hope new tax credit initiatives at the state and federal levels will help them find jobs. Some Connecticut businesses say they’re just waking up to the opportunity.