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. 

The prolonged slump in the housing market has been tough on the economy and tougher on anyone trying to sell their home. It’s also been a trial for realtors, most of whom don’t see a paycheck from one long-delayed sale to the next. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Jordan and Elizabeth Hudak are members of that rare species, serious home buyers. They’re viewing a house in Avon. You might think they’re sitting pretty… not so, says Elizabeth Hudak.

Revisiting the "Amazon Tax"

Aug 26, 2011
J Holt

The passage of an internet sales tax in Connecticut earlier this year was highly controversial. Even the commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services warned the state might suffer economic damage. WNPR’s J Holt brings us the story of one company dealing with the consequences of the new law.

Warchol- “Go get it!” (Dog panting)

That’s Josh Warchol and his dog Jesse. For the last three years, Josh has been senior engineer for a small software company called Fanzter

Even in these uncertain times, the federal government has a lot of tax dollars to spend. But if you run a small business, taking advantage of that opportunity can seem pretty daunting. A recent conference in southeastern Connecticut aimed to demystify the process of doing business with the feds.

WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Three Rivers Community College in Norwich hosted this day-long seminar, organized by the office of second district congressman Joe Courtney.

Harriet Jones

Amid all the many tax changes taking place in Connecticut right now, more than 70,000 businesses are receiving a special bill from the state Department of Labor. The cash will go toward paying interest on federal loans that the state has taken out in order to keep paying unemployment benefits. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Mark Richards runs an IT consulting and recruitment company in Shelton, and he employs 25 people. He’s already grappling with changing his payroll to impose a higher income tax on many of his employees.

Bethel Auto Shop Turns A Passion Into A Livelihood

Aug 17, 2011
Sarah Miner

If you have a hobby that's a passion, you might occasionally have thought of turning it into a business. Actually achieving that is very rare – but that is exactly how automotive shop EFI Logics in Bethel, Connecticut began. WNPR's Sarah Miner reports.

Back in 2008,  the stock market began to plummet, businesses were downsizing, people were getting laid off. The economy was heading into the worst recession in a generation. Jack Laverty and Chris  Schoen-Kiewert saw it as a great opportunity.

Gary Choronzy

Over Chef Bun Lai's creative, soulful, and sustainable cuisine - at the restaurant his mom started when there literally were no sushi restaurants in Connecticut - we gathered with three guest editors: Pam Landry, Mary Scanlon and Randye Kaye - our "fabulous female broadcasters in transition."

These are smart, funny women, and their pitches reflected their shared sensibilities, with questions ranging from preparing for your next job (Pam), to correcting your friends (Mary), to modern-day "choice paralysis" (Randye).

We hope you enjoy the show!

Harriet Jones

It’s a question on the minds of many business owners right now – are we in for a double dip recession? With slower economic growth and a stalled unemployment rate, business confidence seems to have plummeted. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

courtesy Tangoe

One of Connecticut’s fastest-growing tech companies has just gone public, selling shares on the Nasdaq for the first time. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, software provider Tangoe chose an interesting moment for its debut on the markets.

Flickr Creative Commons, phogel

No matter what you think of trucks and truckers, trying going a day without anything that made at least part of its way to you on a truck. It would be a quiet day, I think. 

Harriet Jones

A tiny Connecticut company that’s making innovative skull implants for trauma victims has just shipped its first product.  Kelyniam says its rapid-response device is different than anything else on the market. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the company is employing skills and techniques usually associated with the aerospace industry.

In the lobby of Kelyniam Global’s small unit in a Canton business park several plastic skulls sit on glass shelves. The company’s CEO is James Ketner.

J Holt

From changing market forces, to waning interest, a family business can face challenges on all fronts. WNPR’s J Holt brings us the story of a New Britain family that has kept their company moving forward with a balance of tradition and flexibility, and now has their fourth generation engaged in the business of making meats.

About 20 years ago, Joe Perez and some friends went to see former New Britain Red Sock Ellis Burks play at Yankee stadium. Every time he came by their seats they’d shout,

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

It's All Up For Grabs

Jul 6, 2011
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?"

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.

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.

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.

First Chance To Buy A Share Of The Catch

Jun 23, 2011
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.

Chion Wolf

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.

Chion Wolf

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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