Small businesses weigh in on GE's announcement - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Small businesses weigh in on GE's announcement

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Onion Mountain Kitchen in Simsbury (WFSB) Onion Mountain Kitchen in Simsbury (WFSB)

It is a big loss for Connecticut as GE announced it will take its headquarters out of Fairfield and move to Boston.

The company first threatened to relocate this past summer because of the state’s budget, which raised corporate taxes.

This now has small business advocates saying if a corporation like GE can’t survive in the state, how can a small business.

The Connecticut State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business Andrew Markowski said the news about GE should act as a wakeup call to state lawmakers.

The group acts as an advocate for thousands of small shops. They said so many local business owners are disappointed with GE’s move and have their own concerns about surviving.

“They’re frustrated, they like it here, they wish they can grow and thrive here but many of them particularly over the last 5 years, they’ve been having a very, very difficult time,” Markowski said.

That’s the message the NFIB is hearing from thousands of small business owners from across the state. Markowski said he’s been keeping a close eye on GE’s situation.

“Given the business climate, given the economic climate, the decision was not entirely surprising,” Markowski said.

He added that small business owners are struggling in the state with high taxes, mandates, and the unpredictability of new policies coming out of Hartford that could impact them.

“There is not a business friendly environment here in the state, and whether you’re talking about taxes, regulations, the cost of doing business or even just the predictability about what state lawmakers are going to do next those are the things that keep small business owners up at night and concerned,” Markowski said.

But unlike GE, many don’t want to pack up and leave. They’re from the state, and this is where they’ve put down their roots.

“Connecticut’s where we want to live, it’s where we want to do business,” said Robert Wagner, who opened up Onion Mountain Kitchen in Simsbury last May.

He said it’s tough to operate with sky-high taxes and the ever-growing minimum wage, but he is optimistic.

“With the customers we have and the community support we have we’re going to do everything we can to make it work here,” Wagner said.

Although he’s willing to fight to survive, he said he knows that’s not always the case for small shops across the state.

“You see businesses close for this reason a lot, and I hope people who run our state are willing to work with large businesses, small businesses and do what they have to do, make changes, make these people stay,” Wagner said.

Markowski said in order for small businesses to win, it comes down to the state budget.

He’s pushing for the legislature to take a look at how they tax and spend to make sure places like the Onion Mountain Kitchen thrive.

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