The business community received some eye-opening news when the annual BlumShapiro/CBIA Survey of Connecticut Businesses reported that profitability among Connecticut businesses is at its highest level in 10 years. This was a tremendously positive finding which cannot be overstated; following the Great Recession of 2008-09, many wondered if we would ever see a return to the days of companies realizing such high profits. Not only have we arrived there, but we did so much quicker than most thought possible.
Each year the survey provides us with a snapshot of the state of Connecticut’s business climate, asking questions of owners that deal with growth, innovation and overall satisfaction. And while the survey has shown steady improvement since 2009, this year’s results give us a true sense of optimism that those pre-recession days are once again reachable. The key now is to be strategic in building on this success.
This decade-high level of profitability shows the impressive resilience of Connecticut businesses to endure one of the worst economic downturns in state history and, in many instances, to emerge stronger than ever.
This clearly points us in one direction to ensure growth continues – business and state leaders now need to work together to build on this progress, to find ways to encourage more growth and expansion in Connecticut businesses and to maintain a workforce in Connecticut that has always been among the most highly skilled in the nation. If we can foster the spirit of collaboration between the government and job-creating sectors, all indications are we will be poised for an even brighter future.
The truth is that while growth and profitability are trending in the right direction, the survey also shows a challenge looming-an aging workforce. Over the next five years Connecticut is expected to see a large number of retirements, and when that happens companies will need to find the right workers to take their place. A competitive, business-friendly environment makes this all the more manageable; this would enable businesses to attract and retain top young talent, while at the same time encouraging in-state college graduates to establish Connecticut as the place to have their careers, just as their parents once did.
As the first decade of the 21st century came to an end and the state was mired, along with the rest of the nation, in its worst recession in 25 years, many worried our state would never have the same robust economic and business climate again. But many individuals in this year’s survey conveyed hope that Connecticut can rebound and become a vibrant business community again. More companies introduced new products and services this year than the previous year, and that number is expected to rise again. Connecticut businesses are investing in technology to put themselves on the leading competitive edge in their respective industries, and nearly nine out 10 businesses surveyed indicate they are either growing or holding steady. This is all good news.
Connecticut once placed itself at the forefront of a number of our nation’s most important industries-precision manufacturing, insurance, the financial sector and more. This led to an extremely high quality of life here that residents have enjoyed for decades, marked by great schools and thriving communities. This is what Connecticut was and still can be. The numbers show the talent and desire to keep Connecticut a national business leader is there. All we need now is to have the public and private sector agree to work together to make it happen.