Business Owners Seek Support at Capitol

CBIA's annual business day brings 300 to Hartford

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Business owners listen to legislators
Photo:Harriet Jones
Business Day at the Capitol
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Business Day at the Capitol

 

Small business owners from around Connecticut came to Hartford this week – urging the Governor and the legislature not to add to their burdens. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

                                                   

When pundits talk sometimes about Connecticut being business un-friendly, this is an example of what they mean.

 

“I wrote all of the senators, all the representatives, I wrote Malloy’s office, I put phone calls in, I put emails in, and I have never received a single reply from anybody.”

 

Scott Vallely lives in New Canaan, but his Charter Oak brewery is based in Massachusetts – for now. He very much wants to bring it home to the Nutmeg State, but he’s not feeling the love in Hartford.

 

“Meanwhile, Massachusetts wants me to stay there, New York State would love to have me there -- Westchester County’s literally a bike ride away from my house. And I have to look at all those opportunities.”

 

Vallely was one of about 300 business owners and chamber executives who gathered at the Legislative Office Building, next to the gold dome of the capitol to meet their elected representatives. Governor Dannel Malloy told this crowd Mark Twain was right when he dubbed this state the land of steady habits, but...

 

“He did that when Hartford was one of the ten richest cities in the world. He said that when we were beating everybody.”

 

Now not so much, in one of only two states in the country with no net job growth over the last 20 years. Malloy touted his aggressive efforts at economic development, and also talked about the need for fiscal responsibility. But the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s CEO John Rathgeber says he’s looking forward to the legislature cutting back the Governor’s proposed budget spending.

“We need to start growing the economy in Connecticut, growing the capacity to raise revenue in the state of Connecticut, not through increasing taxes, but through increased economic activity. And that will happen, I believe, once there’s confidence we’ve addressed both the short term and longer term fiscal challenges.”

 

Meanwhile there were also sharp words for legislators who came to rub shoulders with the business community. Many companies are still smarting from the introduction of paid sick leave, and Mike Nicastro of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce in Bristol had a simple message.

 

“Focus on the key needs of government - you know, infrastructure, public safety, health - those kinds of things. Get out of our business, let us run our businesses. We’ll manage our employees, we’ll do the right things by them, and we’ll create the jobs. But if you keep putting all of this on us there’s just no way we can continue to make jobs.”

 

Nicastro and others who attended Connecticut Business Day say they’ll be watching legislators closely, as the session continues.

 

For WNPR, I’m Harriet Jones.