Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Business
    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Small Business Summit draws more than 200 to Groton

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, addressed the second annual CT Small Business Summit Monday, April 22, 2024, at the Mystic Marriott. The event was attended by more than 200, including scores of small business owners both locally and statewide. Photo by Lee Howard/The Day
    Buy Photo Reprints
    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, addressed the second annual CT Small Business Summit Monday, April 22, 2024, at the Mystic Marriott. The event was attended by more than 200, including scores of small business owners both locally and statewide. Photo by Lee Howard/The Day
    Buy Photo Reprints

    Groton ― More than 200 people convened here Monday for the second annual CT Small Business Summit, headlined by keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who touted efforts by the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress to help lower the cost of prescription drugs for both employers and employees.

    Courtney said prescription drugs not long ago accounted for only 10% of overall health care costs in the United States, but that percentage has nearly doubled today. This is the reason that Courtney said he supported the Inflation Reduction Act that lowered the cost of drugs such as insulin for people on Medicare, and also why he now supports the Lowering Drug Costs for American Families Act, which would help lower the cost for employee-based health plans, he said.

    “It’s something that screams out as common sense,” Courtney, D-2nd District, told the assemblage during a luncheon address at the Mystic Marriott. “The cost of medication continues to go up faster than inflation.”

    Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, another speaker Monday, pointed out the state has done its share to make health care more affordable by giving more people access to insurance through Access Health Connecticut, a program that came out of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. In the past decade since the program’s launch, she said, the percentage of people in Connecticut who are uninsured has fallen from 10% to 5%.

    State officials and program overseers who attended the summit, sponsored by Access Health Connecticut and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, thanked small business owners for their dedication to creating jobs in Connecticut.

    “You are the heroes of the day,” Bysiewicz said. “You are the backbone of our economy.”

    “We’re so blessed to live in a state that really cares about small business,“ added keynote speaker Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council.

    Pastore said she founded the women’s business group in 1997 after discovering Connecticut was the only state in the nation without a federally funded program for female entrepreneurs. It had been less than a decade earlier that the Women’s Business Ownership Act allowed women for the first time to operate a business without requiring a male co-signer.

    Now, the state-funded WBDC operates in four cities, including New London, and is about to open its fifth site in Hartford, providing Ignite Grants of up to $10,000 for female-led small businesses to gain access to capital to scale up their operations. It also offers free advice and networking opportunities.

    “It’s really about confidence, and this is especially important to women,” Pastore said. “We all want you to succeed. ... When you do well, the economy does well, our state does well and we all win.”

    Courtney pointed out that southeastern Connecticut’s economy is humming along as the fastest growing labor market in Connecticut and the second fastest-growing in New England, thanks largely to the 5,300 new jobs being created at Electric Boat on an annual basis.

    Earlier during the morning session, state Comptroller Sean Scanlon, the state’s chief financial officer, made a pitch to get small business owners to sign up for MyCTSavings, a no-cost way to offer a retirement plan to employees. Right now, he said, only about half of Connecticut businesses offer a retirement plan for workers, mostly because of the expense.

    In 2023, the program launched with about 700 companies signing on; now, there are close to 6,400 participating.

    “In one year’s time we’ve made a lot of progress on this,” Scanlon said.

    He added that small businesses also have access to a drug discount card to help employees manage their medical expenses.

    l.howard@theday.com

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.