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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Topline
3:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Americans Love Local Business, But Do They Spend Accordingly?

Mark Hillary Creative Commons

It’s the holiday season, meaning it’s time for Americans to hit the stores for Christmas sales and New Year's bargains. This November and December, millions of shoppers will peruse the aisles of big-box stores and chain retailers, hoping to find the coolest gifts and lowest prices.

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The Faith Middelton Show
10:38 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Craft: Why Making Things Matters

Credit Mike Oliveri/flickr creative commons

Carving birds? Knitting sweaters? Paper cutting? Blowing glass? If you're a crafts person, paid or unpaid, please call and tell us what it adds to your life.

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Seafood
5:27 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Shucking Oysters By The Thousands, With A Steady Smile

George Hastings shucks oysters at the Oyster Riot 2014 in Washington, D.C. He's been traveling the country on the shucking circuit for four decades.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 10:44 am

When it needs to serve 75,000 raw oysters to 3,000 people in one weekend, Washington D.C.'s landmark Old Ebbitt Grill calls in reinforcements. It hires expert oyster shuckers to help out with its Oyster Riot event each year. And for most of the last 20 years, those experts have included 59-year-old George Hastings.

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Affordable Care Act
1:32 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Connecticut's Medical Device Makers Hoping on Tax Repeal

An operating room table.
Credit Dario Lo Presti/iStock / Thinkstock

Connecticut’s medical devices industry could benefit from the change in control in Washington next year as Republicans vow to repeal a tax that was put on device makers almost two years ago.

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Local Food
6:32 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

For More Local Turkeys To Hit Holiday Tables, You Need An Abattoir

The turkeys at Kate Stillman's farm don't have to be loaded on a trailer and driven hundreds of miles this year. They now meet their ends on the same farm where they lived their lives.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:22 am

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

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Springfield Casino
1:27 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Springfield’s South End Looks Ahead as Massachusetts Votes on Casinos

Springfield's former South End Community Center, and the possible future site of an MGM casino.
Henry Epp NEPR

In a few days, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to keep the state’s casino law in place, or repeal it.

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Side Business
11:25 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Making Jewelry From Buttons And Bottle Caps

Doll's-eye necklace pendant
Courtesy of Mei-Ling Uliasz

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 3:22 pm

The NPR Ed team is discovering what teachers do when they're not teaching. Artist? Carpenter? Quidditch player? Explore our Secret Lives of Teachers series.

When she's not teaching second-graders in Connecticut, Mei-Ling Uliasz turns bottle caps and little tin cars and brass protractors and other found objects into whimsical "upcycled" jewelry.

Tell us about your secret life.

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Lowering the Bills
1:51 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Small Retailers in Connecticut Urged to Get Smart About Energy Efficiency

Credit unkas_photo/iStock / Thinkstock

Small retailers in the state are being urged to save money on utility bills this winter, beginning with a free energy audit. The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association is running a program in conjunction with the state’s electric utilities, designed specifically for independent stores. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

The Return of the American Streetcar

Jay Galvin Creative Commons

Sometimes called trams, sometimes called trolleys, the streetcar was once a primary method of transportation in many American cities. Nowadays, well, not so much. But as many metropolitan districts grapple with issues like traffic congestion and economic development, some have begun looking to streetcars as a potential solution.

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Affordable Health Care
3:10 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Connecticut Health Care Programs Meet Resistance Among Small Businesses

Credit scyther5/iStock / Thinkstock

The state’s health insurance marketplace has been congratulated for its success in getting individuals enrolled, but insurance brokers say small businesses aren’t signing up. 

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Manufacturing
9:09 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Made Locally, Sought Globally: Connecticut Small Town Products a Big Hit

Bovano of Cheshire has crafted glass enamel sculptures since 1952.
Sujata Srinivasan WNPR

The city of Waterbury claims many firsts. The first brass in America was rolled here. It’s where the first pewter buttons were made, and the first Mickey Mouse watch was produced. One historic store on Bank Street sells products that are still uniquely made right here in Connecticut. 

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New York City
5:31 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

New York Boosts Pay For Thousands With Hourly Wage Hike

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signs an executive order raising the city's living wage law Tuesday. The move will require some employers to pay their employees between $11.50 and $13.13 an hour, depending on whether the employee receives benefits.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday that effectively raises the hourly wage for thousands of workers in New York City. The city says its expansion of the Living Wage provisions will boost yearly earnings for the lowest-paid workers from $16,640 to $27,310.

From New York, NPR's Joel Rose reports:

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East Windsor
1:10 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Ed Thrall and the Story of His Most Contentious Dance Hall

Chion Wolf

You might say that the two great loves of Edwin Thrall’s life were his wife, Flicka, and his daughter, Janett -- his only child, who he wanted to protect --  so he built his third great love, a square dance hall, a place where his wife could dance, and his daughter could be safe.

In a 1997 documentary, Ed Thrall said that he wanted a place to call square dancing. "I wanted a place for Janett to have her friends, and give them recreation that we thought was civilized, and moral, and helpful, and would last them as long as they lived."   

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:56 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Dancin' in the Moonlight: Connecticut Dance Halls

David Foster is the owner of Shaboo Productions and the leader of the Mohegan Sun Shaboo All-Stars
Chion Wolf

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an eleven-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

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American Made
3:27 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Rochester Focuses On A New Picture Of American Manufacturing

Tom Worden works on a fixed-abrasive grinding table at Exelis Inc. in Rochester, N.Y. Exelis is an aerospace and defense company, and employs numerous former Kodak workers in its facility.
Mike Bradley for NPR

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 7:17 am

Rochester, N.Y., was once the imaging capital of the world, home to Kodak, Xerox and the eye care company, Bausch + Lomb.

Led by these companies, the manufacturing sector once employed 60 percent of Rochester's workforce. Now, that's less than 10 percent. And so, like many cities in this country, Rochester is trying to build something new from its manufacturing heritage.

If you want to understand the story of Rochester, says historian Carolyn Vacca, you need to come to High Falls, where from a bridge visitors see a waterfall and a panoramic view of downtown.

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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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