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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Gas Prices
8:41 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Gas Price Hikes Hit Small Businesses

Harriet Jones

The rest of Connecticut might groan at summer gas prices, but in Fairfield County, four dollar gas has a whole different meaning. Small businesses especially, pay the price for the county’s transportation woes. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

When gas prices spiked this year, and gas was more than $4.30 a gallon in southwest Connecticut, the help wanted ads began going up all over Fairfield County.

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Pollution
8:08 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Connecticut Company Patents Environmental Cleanup Technique

Harriet Jones

Cleaning up contaminated land is a massive problem around the world. Pollutants can threaten human health and hold up redevelopment projects. One young Connecticut company called Verutek has just patented a new approach to environmental remediation. 

John Collins has dealt with environmental pollution throughout his career.

“There are so few good remedial technologies and so much contamination. There’s like, 294,000 contaminated sites in the United States that have not been cleaned up.”

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Emerging Technology
7:36 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Creating Venture Capital Opportunities

Harriet Jones

Connecticut hopes to grow a significant cluster of high-tech companies in fields such as fuel cells, advanced manufacturing and medical devices. But one of the stumbling blocks can be finding cash to develop new and unproven ideas. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at efforts to fill the funding gap for emerging technologies.

Jolinda Lambert is the CEO of a company called Innovatient Solutions that’s just about 18 months old.

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Small Business
8:04 am
Thu July 14, 2011

Engaging Students With Business

J Holt

If you imagine a summer camp based on a farm, kids learning about crops and barnyard animals probably come to mind. But profit margins and business plans? Not likely at the top of the list. WNPR’s J Holt brings us a story of one farm taking camp in a new direction.

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Business Ecosystems
10:18 am
Mon July 11, 2011

Small Businesses Fear UBS Defection

Harriet Jones WNPR

Swiss bank UBS has been a huge presence in downtown Stamford for more than a decade. It’s the city’s biggest employer, with some three thousand workers, and its biggest taxpayer. But for months, rumors have been flying that the company may relocate some or all of those people back to Manhattan. WNPR’s Harriet Jones takes a look at what that might mean for the city’s business ecosystem.

A group of UBS traders arrives for lunch at Fiesta Restaurant on Stamford’s Atlantic Street.

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Deconstruction
9:13 am
Fri July 8, 2011

Preservation Through Deconstruction

Harriet Jones

Green construction is a pretty familiar concept these days. But did you also know there’s a green way to remove a building? Instead of demolition, it’s called deconstruction, and one small Connecticut business hopes to grow it into an industry. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Back in the 1930s, the town of Hamden built itself a brand-new firehouse… some seven decades later, it’s no longer a firehouse, but it’s still here on Putnam Avenue, and I’m visiting its present owner, Frank Poole.

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New Haven
11:56 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

It's All Up For Grabs

Uma Ramiah

Goodwill and the Salvation Army are reliable spots for inexpensive items. But one New Haven store is working with a new model: everything is just plain free.

Twenty four year old Hans Schoenburg is talking to a potential customer, and she has a pressing inquiry.

"Now I have one question. What do you do about making sure there's no bugs in the sweaters people give you?"

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First Five
1:25 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Do Corporate Tax Breaks Work?

State and local governments collectively give more than $70 billion a year of incentives to lure business and jobs. Connecticut’s latest tax break deal is called First Five – and it aims to create a thousand new jobs in the state. But critics of the program say that once again, the state is focusing too much on big employers and not enough on small business. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Gene Bartholomew is an HVAC technician. A few years ago he was working as a factory rep for Carrier, a division of United Technologies.

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The Entrepreneurial Community
1:40 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Reaching Out To The Business Community

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s Small Business Development Center – the SBDC – has been using federal funds to provide help and advice to companies in the state for some 30 years. Now it’s re-organized itself to be closer to the entrepreneurial community. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited with one of the center’s new regional representatives.

This is Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. It’s the home base for a new adviser for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.

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Speed Dating
7:00 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Speed Dating For Businesses

Harriet Jones

In business, time is money, and time was at a premium yesterday at a special event in West Hartford. Small businesses from around Connecticut gathered to meet with government agencies and big government contractors for a chance to win new work. But as WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, they had to be quick.

Hone your elevator pitch and get ready to make a great first impression, because you only have minutes face-to-face with the government contractor of your dreams.

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Food Movement
10:31 am
Thu June 23, 2011

First Chance To Buy A Share Of The Catch

Nancy Eve Cohen

The number of businesses supporting the local food movement is continuing to expand in Connecticut. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports on the state’s first community supported fishing venture

A growing number of consumers are getting fresh produce and other farm products by buying a share of the summer’s harvest directly from a farm. The idea is known as Community Supported Agriculture. Fisherman Brendan Smith, who grows 60 acres of shellfish among the Thimble Islands, wanted to test out the idea of a community supported fishery.

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Business
2:38 pm
Fri June 10, 2011

The Connecticut Casket Company

Internet Retailers
2:15 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

"Amazon Tax" Divides Small Businesses

alancleaver_2000, Flickr Creative Commons

Two types of small businesses in Connecticut have been pitted against one another in recent months by a controversial piece of legislation. The measure, which goes into effect July 1st, attempts to force Internet retailers to levy sales tax in the state for the first time.

As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, some are calling it the “Amazon tax.”

This is North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook, where Iain McGowan is helping a customer.

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Button Business
10:40 am
Wed June 1, 2011

Doing Business In Connecticut With the Waterbury Button Company

Chion Wolf

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UConn Conference
2:23 pm
Wed May 25, 2011

UConn Reaches Out To Tech Companies

courtesy eGen

Connecticut would like to reinvent itself as the next Silicon Valley. Some economic development experts say our future lies with the state’s small technology companies. If that’s to become a reality, Connecticut’s universities will have to be a key part of the change. A conference today at UConn aims to show the way. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

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National Small Business Week
12:06 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Bringing The Small Business Message To Washington

Courtesy Dymax

This has been National Small Business Week. The President proclaims this week to honor and recognize the contribution of small businesses to the economy. Tonight the Small Business Person of the Year will be chosen in a special ceremony in Washington DC. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

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Recovering a Business
12:54 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

La Petite France Recovers From Roof Collapse

Harriet Jones

This was one of the snowiest winters in recent memory in Connecticut. There seemed to be almost an epidemic of roof collapses as buildings all over the state gave way under the weight of accumulated snowfalls. Many of those affected were businesses. WNPR’s Harriet Jones went to visit with one of them, to see how the recovery is progressing.

One snowy day last February, the two staff working at Alexandra Litor’s French bakery in Stafford Springs heard the sounds of the building collapsing all around them.

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Starting a New Business
10:01 am
Fri May 13, 2011

Starting a Business? Do It Right!

Harriet Jones

It can feel daunting and perhaps lonely to start a new business. So where can you turn for some friendly advice and seasoned experience?

It turns out there are hundreds of retired executives in Connecticut who offer free counseling services to small business. They're known as SCORE.

WNPR's Harriet Jones sat down with four SCORE counselors, Dennis Peoples, Nazz Paciotti, Joe Beerbower and Eric Steinmetz, who have a pretty good perspective on what small business people do right...and wrong...when getting started.

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Agriculture
1:35 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Small Connecticut Farm's Plan to Evolve, Improve Business

Photo Courtesy Cricket Hill Garden

Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston, Connecticut is one of the only farms in the country cultivating a rare perennial variety ... the Chinese tree peony. As part of WNPR's Small Business Project, Andrew Huston spoke with members of the family who run the garden about their plans to improve the business.

In the coming weeks, the woody shrubs lining Cricket Hill Garden’s woodland terraced garden will burst with large, fragrant, colorful blossoms.

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Taking the Next Step Toward Business
1:03 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

Is Connecticut Really Open For Business?

Harriet Jones

Governor Malloy has declared the state of Connecticut open for business. But many small businesses find when they come in contact with state government, their first experience is frustration. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at just how well the state is doing in streamlining its approach to business.

This is Larry’s Auto Power in Groton, and that’s a race car engine on the test block.

“We do street performance engine rebuilding, racecar engine building.”

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Small Business
10:52 am
Thu May 5, 2011

Electric Costs Hammer Small Business

Harriet Jones

One of the biggest financial pressures on small businesses in Connecticut comes from the cost of utilities. The cost of electricity in particular puts Connecticut businesses at a severe disadvantage. The burden is affecting companies, but work is being done to address the problem.

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Where We Live
12:48 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Bridgeport Small Business Breakfast

Connecticut lawmakers have passed a new, two year budget that raises taxes - and is counting on union concessions.  What will it mean for small business?

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Where We Live
11:26 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Millennials Redefine the Workplace

creative commons

Workplace expert Al Bhatt says our places of employment should be made up of jazz bands, rather than a marching band.

Bhatt’s done consulting work for big companies like Facebook, Siemens, American Express, and State Farm Insurance.

Now Facebook, I can see them being pretty improvisational...but an insurance company?  

Today, in advance of our “small business breakfast” tomorrow in Bridgeport, we’re going to look at the changing workplace in big businesses, and how they’re adapting to a new workforce.  

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Technology
1:11 pm
Mon April 25, 2011

Virtual Reality Comes to the Shop Floor

Harriet Jones

WNPR’s Small Business Project has reported on the high cost of training a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the state and the nation.

This week Harriet Jones visits a small business in Connecticut that’s working on providing a cost-effective and innovative solution to that problem.

I’m in East Hartford at the premises of a company called VRSim, getting a lesson on how to spray paint a vehicle door, from Rebecca McKnight.

“So I’ll do a quick spray for you.”

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Technical School System and the Workforce
4:02 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Businesses Protest Vo-Tech School Plan

Harriet Jones

For many small businesses, training Connecticut’s workforce is a key issue for the state’s economic future. That’s one reason why Governor Malloy’s recent proposal to move the state’s technical high schools into municipal control raised so many eyebrows. WNPR’s Harriet Jones looks at how well Connecticut is planning to meet its workforce needs in the new millennium.

You might think in an economy like this, employers with a job to fill would be inundated with qualified candidates.

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Time is Money
9:19 am
Fri April 15, 2011

Small Businesses Call For Reform Of Tax Code

It can cost small businesses between $5,000 and $10,000 just to administer their tax returns each year. That’s the finding of a new survey, which calls for radical improvements to the tax code. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The National Small Business Association conducted a survey of its members on how much time and money it takes them to comply with the federal tax code.

“The tax code is incredibly complex”

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Entrepreneurship
10:00 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Recession Creates, Destroys Entrepreneurs

Photo: bodycoach2, Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a business from scratch is a mammoth undertaking. Starting a business in the midst of a bad economy might seem like an impossible task. But entrepreneurship traditionally spikes in any recession – and this latest downturn was no exception. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Christina Kazanas used to be the principal grantwriter for the City of Stratford. Her friend Rebekah Harriman wrote grants for the City of Bridgeport.

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Marine Industry
6:56 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

Changes Proposed For Connecticut's Marine Tax Laws

J. Holt, WNPR

Connecticut’s marine industry is one of many facing tax increases in governor Malloy’s proposed budget. But those in the industry say the changes could have unintended consequences. 

Early April is a quiet time for boating here in Connecticut. Most pleasure boats are still tucked under winter covers, but for Connecticut boatyards this is just as important a time of year as any other.

At pilot’s point marina in Westbrook, Rives Potts is inspecting a 46 foot sailboat that his yard has been rebuilding in one of their sheds.

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Growing New Small Businesses
10:34 am
Mon April 4, 2011

Pfizer Layoff A Biotech Opportunity?

Harriet Jones

Over the next year or so, Pfizer will lay off more than a thousand people in Connecticut. If most of these highly skilled workers leave the state it’s estimated the hit to the local economy could be more than $100 million annually. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on the prospects for retaining some of these skills by growing new small businesses.

In a two thousand square foot former restaurant in New London you can catch a glimpse of what a homegrown biotech industry might look like in this part of the state.

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Assessing Opportunity
7:47 am
Mon March 28, 2011

New Economic Development Chief Listens to Business

Harriet Jones

The state’s main economic development agency gets a new chief this week. On Thursday, insurance executive Catherine Smith will take up her post as Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. As she prepared for her new role, she sat down with WNPR’s Harriet Jones.

Many people might feel daunted by the challenge that Catherine Smith has taken on. But she says when the call came from Governor Dannel Malloy, she didn’t hesitate.

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