If you are planning to set up your small- to medium-sized business in Connecticut, where is the best location to set up shop? It depends on a number of factors, of course, but there are some Connecticut cities that are more business friendly than others. It all depends on the criteria you choose to apply.
In recent studies, Connecticut has not fared well as a business-friendly state. The Hartford Courant reported that Connecticut was ranked 43rd among the 50 states by CNBC when it came to supporting business. As a state, Connecticut has had its share of problems with the economy, state budget, and taxes which all stack up in the “negative” column when it comes to nurturing business. However, even with the poor national rankings, Connecticut has a strong labor force, a good education system, and a number of tax incentives for business. Connecticut is a great place to live, and there are some cities that are very friendly business-friendly.
DEFINING “BUSINESS FRIENDLY”
Of course, “business-friendly” is a loosely defined term and means different things to different businesses. Training programs are a primary indicator and Connecticut has some of the best colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Business networking is another strong indicator of business friendliness, and Connecticut has a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and very active executive networking groups. Labor is also a factor, and Connecticut has a highly educated labor force. And Connecticut residents tend to have a per capita income that is $20,000 above the national average, which can translate into more disposable income for your customers and more opportunity for financial backers. Business News Daily ranks per capita income, a favorable labor market, and proximity to major cities such as New York and Boston as the primary advantages offered to SMBs in Connecticut.
Management training company LaunchPad Class cites a number of reasons that Connecticut is attractive for small businesses. The state has a low crime rate, a healthy population, and a minimal poverty rate. It also is home to a number of large employers such as Sikorsky Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney, The Hartford, Travelers, Cigna Corporation, and Yale University, to name a few. The benefit for smaller companies is that the success of these big business players lifts the overall economy so everyone benefits.
There also are a variety of business tax incentives. There are credits available for financial services companies, media and film production companies, manufacturers, research and development service providers, entrepreneurs, corporations, and other types of companies. State government is clearly committed to making Connecticut an affordable and friendly state in which to do business.
HOW CONNECTICUT CITIES STACK UP
So which cities rank as the most business friendly?
Connecticut Magazine ranks the top cities every year, including their economy. They use a formula based on population, per capita income, unemployment, and other factors. According to the 2015 rankings, the Connecticut cities with the best economies were (in order) Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, and New Haven.
In a survey published by WalletHub, 1,268 small cities across the country were ranked by business environment, access to resources, and cost of doing business. For business environment, Danbury ranked number 45, Westport number 49, and Shelton 88. Westport also ranked number 9 in access to resources Key metrics include average growth, prevalence of investors, cost of office space, and corporate taxes.
The cities the “gold coast” such as Westport, Stamford, and New Haven along have always fared well for business because they have more people and they tend to have a better infrastructure.
CONSIDER THE INFRASTRUCTURE
Part of what makes a city business-friendly is infrastructure. You want to be sure to have good transportation, reliable power, and solid telecommunications. You also want to be sure to have reliable resources in the area to support your operations. Computer networks, for example, are the arteries that keep business-critical data flowing so you want to be sure to have reliable networking support services readily available. Most small to medium sized businesses do not maintain their own IT staff so having reliable outsourced managed network services available is critical.
Cloud computing is becoming an increasingly popular and valuable option for small businesses. Rather than hosting your own computer servers and software, a business can host applications and data in the cloud, ensuring that it is secure and readily available. Cloud computing is typically more cost-effective than maintaining in-house network servers and software, and it requires less hardware and startup costs. A reliable managed services provider can assist with cloud computing as well, helping define the cloud services required and managing software licenses and systems availability.
A managed services provider also can provide support for on-site workstations, telecommunications, networking systems, and even secure data backup and disaster recovery. No matter where you locate your operation, you are going to need support services so be sure to choose a location where technical support is available when you need it.
Connecticut is a great place to live and it can be a great place to do business. First, you just have to define your operational criteria and choose a location that has what you need—office space, workers, economic climate, infrastructure, etc. When you consider the best Connecticut city to set up shop, remember you don’t have to go it alone. Work with local realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, and talk to local service providers. You’ll soon know if you’re making the right move.
About the Author
Tom McDonald, President of NSI, has been helping small and medium businesses succeed in Connecticut for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting www.nsiserv.com.