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. 

Chion Wolf

We get together a few times a year to talk about the issues that face small businesspeople in Connecticut.  And today's topic is Health Care.

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.

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.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

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.

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.

Real Life Survival Guide Episode 61

Oct 1, 2012
Cindy Papish Gerber

We've been focusing our conversations on the specifics of some of our categories lately, and in the area of relationships, there are many difficulties associated with the process of coupling - and uncoupling - in 21st century life, it seemed ike a natural topic for the Guide.

Fred S.C. Li

Today we're broadcasting from one of the cultural meccas of Fairfield County - a waterside aquarium that hosts a half-millionlion visitors each year.  Among other things, they have exhibits of seals and fish, and lots of stuff for kids. 

Four times a year, WNPR's Small Business Project goes on the road to take the pulse of small business in our state.  Today, we'll be visiting with business leaders from the shoreline to talk about something that's unavoidably important this year: the politics of small business.

Heather Brandon

It wasn’t too long ago that everything you threw out went in the trash, then to a landfill. Now, due to changes in public attitude and government incentives, recycling has become a part of our daily lives.

Back in 1980, for instance, only about 10 percent of trash got recycled. That number is up to 34 percent. Much better, but still “lackluster” according to proponents of “sustainable” business. Some European countries are up around 50 percent. So, what can we do to recycle more? What’s the incentive? 

Harriet Jones

“Keeping it in the family” takes on a whole new meaning when that family runs a business. In the first of a two part series, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visits two very different family businesses here in Connecticut.

In an ordinary looking house in an unremarkable street in Bridgeport, an extraordinary enterprise is being carried on.

“I’m Beverlee Dacey and I am second generation of the family business….”

Real Life Survival Guide Episode 58

Sep 9, 2012
Cindy Papish Gerber

Having just arranged for the payment of a rather large college tuition bill ("arranged" meaning we borrowed most of it), the topic of "buying stuff" has begun to occupy a lot of my attention. Not only do I question the usefulness/necessity of some of my past purchases, I wanted to get an idea of what criteria others use when making decisions about buying goods and services.

Harriet Jones

Internships are a common way for big companies to bring on new talent and to decide on possible future hires. But running an internship program can be financially impossible for many of Connecticut’s small technology companies. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on a program that aims to change that.

Strain Measurement in Wallingford is an engineering firm that makes sensors, primarily for medical devices.

Harriet Jones

Workers at Mystic Seaport take to polls Friday to vote on whether to form a union. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it’s the latest stage in what has become a contentious labor relations saga for the famous museum.

Working at Mystic Seaport is about as far as you can get from the traditional 9 to 5.

“I do blacksmithing, sailmaking, coopering, sail handling, and then talk about the historical relevance of all the artifacts and exhibits around the Seaport.”

courtesy: FSW Inc.

Starting a new company is a lonely business. It can be particularly difficult if you have nowhere to turn for guidance or support. One program in Bridgeport has aimed to fill that gap for local entrepreneurs for the last 12 years. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

“Good to see you!.......

“Thank all of you for coming. Hope you guys are enjoying your meal….”

New Haven Bucks Trend In Small Business Turnover

Aug 6, 2012
Sarah Miner

Cities all over Connecticut suffer periodically from empty storefronts and high business turnover. But a new survey shows New Haven is managing to provide some stability in its downtown. Sarah Miner reports from the city’s Ninth Square.

Harriet Jones

Franchised companies have been through very tough times, just like other small businesses during the recession, but some are betting they have what it takes to make a quicker recovery. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This is Connecticut’s latest Wireless Zone location, in Cromwell, and it’s the grand opening day. Co-owner Matt Pensiero says for him, the cell phone business is a smart place to be.

“Maybe ten years ago it was kind of a toy, kind of, you know, something nice to have; but now, it’s a have-to-have.”

Levels of lending to small businesses took a long dip this year, before recovering slightly in May. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it’s the first time since the height of the recession that borrowing has seen a prolonged decline.

It’s often said that credit is the lifeblood of a small business. And therefore when small businesses aren’t getting loans, it’s significant.

“Small business is at the forefront of the economy.”

Bill Phelan runs PayNet, a firm that tracks small business lending.

Connecticut will be the destination later this month for hundreds of small high tech companies from all over the Eastern United States. They’ll be here for the national Small Business Innovation Research and Global Trade Summit, to be held at Mohegan Sun. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

The tall ships sail into New London this weekend for OpSail – the first time in 12 years that Connecticut has hosted the event. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited the city to see how it’s getting ready.

Coming into New London on Eugene O’Neill Drive, you might glance across one of the city’s car parks and notice two painters hard at work on an enormous mural. Ten feet up in the air on a hydraulic platform. 

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.

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.

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