Most Connecticut companies earned a profit over the past year, but business leaders still worry about the state’s economy, tax burden, and other obstacles, according to a survey released today.
In the past year, 63 percent of businesses report earning a profit — the largest share since 2006 — according to the 2015 Survey of Connecticut Businesses.
The survey was released Friday by BlumShapiro and the Connecticut Business & Industry Association at The Connecticut Economy Conference in Hartford. It was emailed to 5,500 businesses statewide in June and July and garnered 583 responses.
In addition to the businesses that reported a profit, 22 percent said they broke even in the past year while 15 percent took a loss.
When asked to identify the major hurdles impeding their businesses, 43 percent of respondents named the state’s economy as the biggest problem — up from 34 percent last year — while 15 percent cited the tax burden, 12 percent said health care costs, 11 percent said the national economy, and 8 percent said regulatory costs. Some respondents cited multiple concerns.
“Though this report gets at some of the state’s weaknesses — in addition to its many strengths — our purpose is to highlight for policymakers both the hopes and deep concerns businesspeople have about doing business here,” CBIA President and CEO Joe Brennan said in a statement.
“The economy has gained some traction, but Connecticut still faces many challenges,” he said. “For the state to reach its full economic potential, policymakers must make economic growth their top priority.”
CBIA lobbies on behalf of businesses at the state Capitol and has been a vocal critic of tax increases that were passed in the most recent state budget and impact businesses.
When asked how lawmakers can help make businesses become more competitive, 53 percent of survey respondents said they should cut taxes. Another 22 percent suggested reducing the size and spending of government, and 21 percent said reducing regulations would boost competitiveness.
Despite their worries, most businesses in the state said they were either holding steady (50 percent) or growing (32 percent), the survey found.
“The ability of Connecticut’s businesses to rise above the state’s public policy and economic shortcomings and continue to remain profitable lends optimism to this year’s survey,” Joseph Kask, office managing partner of BlumShapiro’s West Hartford office, said in a statement.
In light of recent high-profile threats by companies like General Electric to leave Connecticut, one-third of survey respondents said they have been approached about moving or expanding their business out of state.
Of those who have been approached, the survey found, one-quarter plan to move to the state that contacted them, 29 percent are considering moving “significant production” out of Connecticut within five years, and 31 percent are considering expanding in another state in the next five years.
Most of those contemplating a move said the state’s business environment was driving them away. According to the survey, 77 percent feel Connecticut’s business climate is poorer than other states’ in the Northeast, and 91 percent said the state is “outmatched” by the rest of the country.”
“The overriding theme of this year’s survey is the need for state lawmakers to further engage business leaders to create a more business-friendly climate in Connecticut,” BlumShapiro partner Andrew Lattimer said in a statement. “By enhancing the dialogue on taxes, competitiveness, and the overall business climate, all of Connecticut will benefit.”