Small business owners are among a group of business leaders speaking out about the critical issues and challenges impacting Connecticut's economy and job growth.
They are the focus of a new series of advertising spots for CBIA's Fix Connecticut campaign, designed to raise public awareness around those important issues.
"Connecticut is a lovely place to live, it truly is," says Ed Rodriguez, president of Stratford-based Penmar Industries. "I am very proud to live in Connecticut.
"It's just very difficult in today's environment. Our state taxes are way too high and lawmakers spend too much.
"We just don't have the stability we need to make investments. We just don't know what will happen from year-to-year.
"Are we going to continue to increase taxes? Are we going to continue to tax the companies and the way they operate?"
Abul Islam, president of AI Engineers in Middletown, echoes Rodriguez, saying Connecticut "has tremendous potential."
"Balancing our books, our budget in the state. That's the number one issue," he explains.
Marietta Lee, vice president with The Lee Company, a Westbrook manufacturer, says Connecticut needs long-term solutions to solve the state's economic problems.
"The economic climate here in Connecticut makes it very hard for us to grow," Lee said.
"It's absolutely inexcusable that Connecticut's economy has not grown since the recession.
"When I see our lawmakers spending money that we don't have, I'm outraged.
"We can't run our business like that and I certainly can't run my household like that."
Rodriguez explains how the state's high business tax burden impacts his company's ability to expand its workforce.
"We compete with states that have lower taxes," he says. "They have a lower cost of living.
"We pay so much in taxes that, literally, I cannot hire people. It's extremely sad."
Islam shared a similar sentiment, saying "we need to keep our taxes low. We have too many taxes."
What's most important is that we make Connecticut more affordable and attractive for people to live.
"Raising taxes in order to fix the problem is how we got in this mess to begin with," she said. "It's very short-sighted.
"What's most important is that we make Connecticut more affordable and attractive for people to live.
"I want to see Connecticut be a state that people come to, not one they leave."
Lee says the first question she asks candidates for elected office is "What specifically are you going to do to fix the economy?"
"I know, with the right people in office and smart minds, it can be fixed."
Islam and Rodriguez share Lee's optimism.
"We have a lot of potential in Connecticut," Rodriguez said. "We just need the right legislators in place to help us reach that potential."
Islam says Connecticut has the opportunity to "turn it around in a big way."
"We need to create jobs and opportunities for young people to come in Connecticut," he said.
"I know how great our state can be. If we can work together, we can turn this around."