CT needs to be friendlier to small businesses

Connecticut, ranked as one of the least favorable states to start a small business, presents unique challenges to entrepreneurs.

Nearly half of all workers in the state are employed by small businesses, which not only serve as the backbone of Connecticut’s economy but also play a critical role in shaping the community’s social structure.

As someone who grew up in a family that owns a small ice cream business in Torrington, I have seen firsthand how these businesses boost community spirit and inclusivity through their unique products and services. However, the high cost of living and strict regulatory environment in Connecticut pose significant challenges.

For instance, our family business has struggled with the increasing costs of ingredients and labor, which have been made worse by rising minimum wage rates and high taxation. Customers then blame us for price increases without taking into account factors out of our control. These economic pressures significantly stunt our ability to operate effectively and remain competitive.

The economic impact of small businesses in Connecticut is profound. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, small enterprises, defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, were responsible for 85.3% of the net job gains in the state. Yet, despite their significance, small businesses encounter numerous obstacles. The high cost of utilities, rent, and wages due to Connecticut’s high cost of living makes it difficult for small businesses like ours to remain financially viable.

Additionally, the tax burden in Connecticut is considerable. Property taxes and corporate income taxes significantly strain our business finances, leaving little room for growth or expansion. The lack of targeted support from the state worsens these challenges, making it harder for small businesses to thrive.

Our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these challenges. As we navigated the complexities of state laws and sought relief through loans, the process was inconvenient and the aid insufficient. This situation highlights the need for more support systems for small businesses in Connecticut.

Addressing the challenges faced by small businesses like ours requires targeted solutions that directly address the specific issues we encounter daily. For instance, simplifying the tax code and reducing bureaucratic hurdles could significantly ease the operational burdens on small businesses.

Creating incentives for local sourcing could help reduce our ingredient costs, which are a major expense for our ice cream business. Tailored financial programs that offer low-interest loans or grants to small businesses could help us manage the high operational costs that come with running a business in a high-cost state like Connecticut. Also the state could foster a more inclusive community by encouraging collaboration between small businesses, universities, research institutions, and government agencies.

In conclusion, the state of Connecticut must recognize and address the specific needs of small businesses to foster a more inclusive and prosperous economic environment. By implementing targeted programs and initiatives aimed at alleviating the challenges faced by small businesses, Connecticut can enhance its position as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, ensuring the sustainability and growth of its economic backbone.

Marissa Peterson of Harwinton is a student at Central Connecticut State University.

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