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. 

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Industry Revival
9:18 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Why a Banker is Re-opening a Textile Mill in Connecticut

The main offices of the American Woolen Company in Stafford Springs.
J Holt WNPR

The slow death of the textile industry in the U.S. was underscored last December by the closure of the last operating mill in Connecticut, the historic Warren Mills in Stafford Springs. That same mill is celebrating its re-opening under new owners. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:17 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Gig-ecticut Is Coming

Elin Katz is Consumer Counsel, State of Connecticut
Chion Wolf

The number one lesson with infrastructure is build more than you think you need. If you don't, you spend forever catching up. In Connecticut, this is especially true about mass transit. We didn't build any for decades and now we're so far behind that even becoming semi-respectable is going to take decades.  

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:27 am
Tue September 2, 2014

The Scramble: What's Wrong with Connecticut Besides John Rowland

Credit Anthony Calabrese / Wikimedia Commons

Today's Scramble leads off with Annie Lowrey, who tackles a subject that's been dominating a lot of conversations around here lately. What's the matter with Connecticut? is the question Annie Lowrey asks in her weekend essay for New York Magazine. ​​Is there a collective malaise and is it based on economic factors? Annie notes that Connecticut has somehow managed to become both the richest and poorest economy in America--at the same time.

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Family Food Business
1:55 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Bronx Baker Turns Dominican Cakes Into A Sweet American Dream

Yolanda Andujar and her daughter Astrid bake together every weekend. Andujar primarily makes the cakes while Astrid, a graphic designer by day, makes elaborate decorations using fondant and bright colors.
Néstor Pérez-Molière Courtesy of Feet in 2 Worlds

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:49 pm

For many immigrants arriving in the U.S., opening a family food business can be a pathway to economic stability. While many fail, one Dominican woman in the Bronx has managed to get her family off food stamps, send her kids to college and share her heritage with new friends and neighbors. And it all started with cake.

Not just any cake — but bizcocho Dominicano, flavored with rum and vanilla extract, and layered with tropical fruit spreads and meringue.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:07 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Out With the Windmills: Miniature Golf Goes Pro

Colin Bartlett Creative Commons

Mini-golf was created for children but today's children are less and less interested in playing because of video games. Nintendo Wii for example, makes mini-golf video games. Now, that seems so wrong. You should go somewhere to play mini-golf. That's kind of the idea, or is it.

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Western Massachusetts
12:47 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Berkshire Performance Venues Report Successful Summers

The cast of "A Midsummer NIght's Dream" at Pittsfield's Shakespeare in the Park.

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 12:38 pm

As the days of August tick away, many Berkshires performance venues are closing the curtains on their summer sessions.

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Vermont
12:02 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Legendary Vermont Bakers May Stop Selling Beloved Sourdough Bread

Rabin bread on a rock at the farmers market in Plainfield prior to setting up the table.
Jon Kalish for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 5:26 pm

When Jules Rabin lost his job teaching anthropology in 1977, he and his wife, Helen, turned to baking to keep their family afloat. For 37 years they've baked sourdough bread that people in central Vermont can't seem to live without.

The year before Jules left Goddard College, he and Helen built a replica of a 19th century peasant oven, hauling 70 tons of fieldstone from nearby fields. The stones covered an igloo-shaped brick baking chamber 5 1/2 feet in diameter.

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Bilingual Tax Help
10:44 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Revenue Services Reaches Out to Hispanic Businesses in Connecticut

Park Street in Hartford is home to many Hispanic-run businesses.
Tucker Ives WNPR

The state of Connecticut is trying to make it easier for Spanish-speaking business owners to pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue Services has produced a Spanish language video on electronic filing.

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Startups
6:22 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Uber And Lyft Spar Over Alleged Ride Cancellations

It's not all pink mustaches and fist bumps in the business of on-demand car services.
Jose A. Iglesias MCT/Landov

Uber and Lyft are battling for customers looking for rides via smartphones, but maybe not everyone is fighting fairly.

CNNMoney reports that Uber employees have ordered and canceled more than 5,000 Lyft rides since October, according to Lyft's data.

"And it's not just a rogue employee or two," CNN reports. "Lyft claims 177 Uber employees around the country have booked and canceled rides in that time frame."

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Arts Partnership
9:32 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Hartford Symphony Appoints Orchestra Management Director

Stephen Collins.
Credit Connecticut DECD

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has appointed a Director of Artistic Operations and Administration.

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Industry Revival
2:12 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Stafford Springs Textile Mills Back in Action

American Woolen has restarted production at Stafford Springs.
American Woolen Company

Textiles are once again being produced in Stafford Springs. Eight months after the Warren Corporation mills closed, ending the industry in Connecticut, the newly-reopened company has taken its first work order.

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Manufacturing
1:51 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

What's Behind the Connecticut-Made Brand?

Bob Torrani, director of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology’s (CCAT) Advanced Manufacturing Center in East Hartford, explains how CCAT helps smaller firms to optmize new technology.
Sujata Srinivasan WNPR

What consumer product comes to mind when you think of Vermont? Maple syrup, Cabot cheese, or Ben & Jerry’s, perhaps? If that's what comes up in a kind of consumer word association, marketing gurus would nod their heads knowingly.

A strong product is great, but if you don’t build a strong brand, it won't sell. How are businesses and policy makers branding Connecticut-made products?

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Vermont Brewers
12:28 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Beer Fans Line Up For Small Batch Offerings At Vermont Brewer's Festival

Beer enthusiasts line up for Lawson's Finest Liquids, one of the most popular offerings at the festival.
Annie Russell VPR

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:15 am

With over 30 breweries in Vermont- to say nothing of home brewers- there is craft beer being made in just about every corner of the state.

This past weekend, the Vermont Brewer’s Festival celebrated those beer makers, along with those visiting from New England and Quebec.

At the Burlington waterfront on Saturday, beer lovers lined up to sample a wide range of beers from Vermont’s ever-growing craft beer industry.

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Overtime Pay
2:59 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Berlin Limousine Firm Ordered to Pay $500,000 in Back Wages

Credit Anja Peternelj/iStock / Thinkstock

A Berlin limousine firm has been ordered to pay its drivers half a million dollars in back wages and damages, after it failed to pay overtime for several years.

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Bottom Five
11:02 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Business Climate: Is Connecticut Really That Bad?

Perception or reality?

A recent study saw Connecticut drop once again in the ranking of business-friendly states. According to CNBC, we’re now among the bottom five states in the nation in terms of our business climate.

There is a view out there, however, that things may not be so bad after all.

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Technology
11:27 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Yo Is The Buzzy App Of The Moment, Whether Yo Like It Or Not

justyo.co

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:41 pm

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Made in Connecticut
9:26 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Connecticut Vaccine Company Gets $50 Million in Federal Funding

The Meriden labs of Protein Sciences.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

Meriden’s Protein Sciences has been awarded a multi-million dollar extension to its contract with the federal government to provide flu vaccines.

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Made in Connecticut
9:27 am
Fri June 13, 2014

How Connecticut Manufacturing Businesses Have Beat the Odds For 100 Years

Bill Potvin at Hosmer Mountain Soda continues to sell flavors that are uniquely New England.
Sujata Srinivasan WNPR

The odds were never in favor of small businesses. Data from the Small Business Administration shows that only about one-third of all start-ups make it beyond the first ten years. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Bringing Manufacturing Jobs Back to Connecticut

John Dankosky speaks with (from left) Chris Murphy, Kris Lorch, and Sonny Morneault.
Lydia Brown WNPR

This hour, we kick off our year-long Made in Connecticut series with a conversation about keeping jobs in and bringing jobs back to Connecticut. Senator Chris Murphy joined us, along with WNPR’s Harriet Jones, and some folks from the local manufacturing industry, to take an in-depth look at the present and future of manufacturing in our state.

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Non-Profits
1:45 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Finding a New Business Paradigm For Connecticut Non-Profits

Volunteer Louise Thoman works with a client at IICONN.
IICONN

Giving to good causes is something many of us think about at the end of the year, as we send off a donation to a non-profit that we support. But what if you had the means and business expertise get more deeply involved in the work of your chosen cause? A new organization in Connecticut wants to harness that kind of talent.

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Technology
12:41 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Teen's App Helps Pay Family's Bills

Courtesy of Michael Sayman

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 5:51 pm

Michael Sayman is a 17-year-old game developer from Miami, whose app — 4 Snaps — has been going strong in the iTunes App Store. Sayman was highlighted at Facebook's development conference last week by Mark Zuckerberg. He graduates from high school this month and starts an internship at Facebook headquarters later this summer. Sayman spoke with Tell Me More about his app, how he used the proceeds to help his family and how some schools and teachers are overlooking the importance of tech.

How did you get into tech?

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Startup Culture
9:54 am
Tue April 29, 2014

How a Stamford Startup Is Disrupting the Online Ad Market

Bill Lederer and Ted Yang in the Stamford office of MediaCrossing.
Harriet Jones WNPR

Do you ever wonder how the banner ad that pops up on your favorite website gets there, and who chooses what you’ll see?

At the moment, the buying and selling of digital ads is largely controlled by big legacy agencies. But there’s a tiny upstart company in Stamford that wants to disrupt the growing market.

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Made in Connecticut
10:56 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Reshoring Reaches Connecticut Manufacturers

Operator Angela Hernandez performs a trimming operation and visual inspection on a prototype molding process at NPI Medical in Ansonia.
David Butler II Butler Photography, LLC

As World War II came to a close, manufacturing in Connecticut employed close to half the state's working population. Now it accounts for only eleven percent of employment. That dramatic decline over half a century is due to one irresistible force: off-shoring, and the loss of work to cheaper labor markets in Asia. But that force may not be so irresistible after all.

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Japanalia Eiko
4:55 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

End May Be Near For Hartford Cabaret Series

Dan Blow at the piano inside Japanalia Eiko.
David Borawski

Dan Blow, the noted Hartford-based fashion designer who creatively refashioned himself into one of the city’s most industrious and illustrious concert producers, plans to pull up stakes in Hartford to live in the Bahamas; shutter his clothing business, sell his elegant Woodland Street condo, and in a severe blow to the local music scene, perhaps end his enormously popular Music@Japanalia series held primarily in his West End boutique.

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Small Business
8:54 am
Fri April 11, 2014

New Haven Cardboard Furniture Company Goes Beyond One-Man Production

Zachary Rotholz of Chairigami.
Alan Yu WNPR

In New Haven, there's a furniture shop where everything is designed, hand-made, and shipped by just one employee working with cardboard.

Now Zachary Rotholz of Chairigami is working with manufacturers in Connecticut to scale up production of his cardboard furniture, and even make it high-tech.

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Vermont
8:50 am
Thu April 10, 2014

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales

"We saw a lot of customers come in, look for a table, not find one and leave," owner Jodi Whalen says. "It was money flowing out the door for us."
Annie Russell VPR

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 8:46 am

Customers chat, read the paper and order sandwiches and espresso drinks at the counter of August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vt., but there's something different here. Where there used to be the familiar glow of laptop screens and the clicking of keyboards, now the devices are banned.

"I was here working on my laptop when I looked over and saw that there's a sign that says 'laptop-free,' " says Luna Colt, a senior at the University of Vermont.

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Local Business
11:33 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Bristol Business Gets a Boost -- From a Cash Mob

Bristol Rising supporters gathered outside West End Pizza, before the start of the cash mob.
J Holt

By the time Bristol's West End Pizza was ready to open its doors on Saturday morning, there were a dozen patrons already outside, waiting to get in. You may have heard of a flash mob. Well, this is a financial version. The family owned pizzeria was the target of a "cash mob," which is essentially a group of people joining forces to give a business a really good day. 

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Ironworker Mentoring
12:42 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

City of Hartford Launches Mentor-Protégé Program

Participants in the City of Hartford's first mentor-protégé program, from left: Ian Howell and his mentor, Nick Bonadies; Joslyn F. Chance and his mentors, Cathy Jo and Barry Cousineau; Shane Kelly and his mentor, Arthur "Chip" Martin.
Credit J Holt

Many cities promote minority and women owned businesses by hiring them to provide services. But Hartford is going one step further -- with a mentoring program. 

Shane Kelly is an ironwork contractor, and his company, Kelly Steel, has been a certified minority-owned business for years. He wants to expand his business into more areas of his industry. "I've been apprehensive, you know," he said. "No one wants to mess up."

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Technology
5:57 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Need Money For Your Startup? Being An Attractive Male May Help

Men are more likely to get venture capitalist support than women, and a new study found that attractive males get even more points — from both genders.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 8:47 pm

Google. Twitter. Facebook. Back before they got big, companies like these were just startup ideas, born in dorm rooms and run out of garages. Then came the venture capitalists: rich, older men ready to fund the brilliant ideas of younger, creative men.

But what if you are a woman with a startup idea? A new study says you might not do so well. It's been well-documented that businesses started by women receive very little venture capital money.

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Unemployment
10:24 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Connecticut Job Numbers Tell a Complicated Story

The number of people actively seeking work declined in January.
Credit Harriet Jones

The latest employment report from the state Department of Labor showed a hopeful pick-up in job creation in Connecticut last year. But it also revealed a big loss in jobs in the first month of this year.

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