Cite Cost of Living as Region's Biggest Disadvantage

Nearly 60% of businesses in northwest Connecticut anticipate an increase in total sales revenue next year, according to the results of a survey released today.

Forty-six percent expect more in pre-tax profits but most do not expect to grow their workforce over the same time period (55%).

And the 2014 Survey of Northwest Connecticut Businesses found growing the region's manufacturing industry (43%), regional collaboration to attract business investment (31%), and retaining a skilled workforce (26%) as the top three priorities for the region's economy.

"This region's ability to thrive during this challenging period is testimony to the strength and vitality of the business community dedicated to making northwest Connecticut an even better place in which to live and work," said JoAnn Ryan, president & CEO of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

"Regional collaborations will sustain our corner of the state as it rebounds and help it thrive in this highly competitive global market."

The survey was conducted by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

Cost of living (43%) was noted as the greatest disadvantage to doing business in northwest Connecticut, while inability to retain young talent (16%) came in second.

When asked how Connecticut's aging population affects their ability to maintain an adequate workforce, 67% of businesses reported being somewhat or very concerned. That is up 11 percentage points from 2012, when this survey was last conducted.

"This survey reinforces how concerned the state's business leaders are in regard to the aging workforce," said Pete Gioia, CBIA vice president and economist.

"Ensuring that state schools and training programs can produce enough skilled top quality young workers to meet the needs of companies losing workers to retirement or that are growing is a top priority."

Business leaders predicted that industry-specific skills (37%) such as medical, utilities, manufacturing, and construction; and computer/IT skills (28%), would be most in demand.

When asked about the greatest advantage to doing business in northwest Connecticut, businesses were fairly evenly divided, identifying the following: the region's proximity to New York, Boston, and Springfield markets and amenities (22%); local environment (17%); supportive chamber of commerce (14%); active local banks (11%); and arts, culture, and entertainment opportunities (10%).

The 2014 Survey of Northwest Connecticut Businesses was sponsored by Brooks, Todd and McNeil Insurance; Dymax Corporation; Northeast Utilities; Northwest Community Bank; Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce; Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board; UConn Torrington; and Webster Bank.

The 2014 Survey of Northwest Connecticut Businesses was mailed and emailed to 1,400 businesses throughout northwestern Connecticut in September 2014. CBIA received 194 responses, for a return rate of 13.9% and a margin of error +/- 7.2%.

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CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with 10,000 member companies. For more information, please contact Meaghan MacDonald (860.244.1957; meaghan.macdonald@cbia.com) or visit the CBIA Newsroom.

The Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Connecticut is the premier business resource for 20 towns in the region and works tirelessly to fulfill its mission of promoting economic growth while enhancing the region's quality of life. For more information, visit the chamber's website.