Philip Morris Announces Corporate Move to Fairfield County

One of the world’s largest tobacco companies, Philip Morris International announced it was relocating its U.S. corporate headquarters and 200 jobs to Fairfield County next year. The company, which touted its desire to move away from tobacco and even eliminate smoking, will not receive any incentives from the state, and the jobs will be employees relocating from the existing headquarters in New York City. Indra Nooyi and James Smith, co-chairs of Advance CT – a non-profit that works with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to retain and recruit businesses – touted Connecticut’s “natural strengths”: quality of life,

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Pandemic Launches a Wave of Black-Owned Businesses

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A team of economists in a recent analysis of eight states is reporting a surge in business registrations in the weeks after the public received federal stimulus payments. The increase was particularly dramatic in majority Black neighborhoods.  But Black business owners and people familiar with the Black business community in Connecticut say that furloughs and available funds weren’t the only factors that drove people to become entrepreneurs — in many cases, the new businesses were born out of a need to escape from the stress of the pandemic. Stephanie Aris, an ICU nurse at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, said

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Studio Credits Net Connecticut Taxpayers a $92.8 Million Loss

A Greenwich-based animation studio collected $242.5 million in tax credits during its 12-year run in Connecticut – and state auditors say $66.8 million of that was improperly given. Blue Sky Studio, a digital animation studio best known for its work on blockbuster films including Tron and Ice Age, was shut down by Disney this month, and laid off over 400 employees after the ubiquitous media company bought the studio’s previous owner, 20th Century Fox. Blue Sky started in Greenwich in 1987, but moved to White Plains, New York in 2002. The company moved back to Greenwich in 2009 to take

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Business Groups Write to Oppose Health Insurance Tax

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A number of business interests representing companies small and large expressed significant concern about a proposed $50 million assessment on insurance carriers, that they say will increase the cost of providing employees with health insurance.  The assessment is part of a legislative proposal that would create a “public option” for employers to buy health insurance for their employees through the Office of the State Comptroller.   According to an analysis from Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting, Inc. that was commissioned by UnitedHealth Group, a $50 million assessment would result in an increase of $29.73 yearly in premium rates per person.  In a

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Lamont Signals Openness to Taxing Digital Advertisers, Hears Concerns

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Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press conference on Thursday that he’d be willing to consider a proposed tax on large digital advertisers like Google and Facebook. I think it deserves a look,” Lamont said, adding that the state at one time relied on corporate income tax for 20 to 25 percent of its revenue.  “Now, very few companies pay it, and certainly not those big, digital out of state companies.”  Lawmakers have introduced two bills — H.B. 6187 and S.B. 821 — that would “establish a ten per cent tax on the annual gross revenues derived from digital advertising

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Predicting a “Great Summer,” Lamont Shares Plans for Summer Camps and Vocational Programs

Gov. Ned Lamont shared his optimism with the Connecticut business community at a virtual breakfast event Wednesday morning hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, highlighting what he described as the success of Connecticut’s vaccination rollout and previewing potential partnerships for workforce development.  Predicting that will be a “great summer” for Connecticut’ business community, Lamont said he was proud that Connecticut was one of the first states in the region to begin rebounding from the pandemic. “I feel like we’re in the ninth inning of this COVID year that’s been really brutal for small business, brutal for the

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With Warmer Weather in Sight, Connecticut Eases Outdoor Dining Approvals Until 2022

Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill into law Wednesday that extends a relaxation of outdoor dining regulations until March 31, 2022.  H. B. 6610, “An Act Concerning The Provision of Outdoor Food and Beverage Service By Restaurants,” allows local planning officials to authorize or expand outdoor dining at restaurants and loosen local zoning rules. The state Senate passed the bill unanimously on Tuesday.  Outdoor eating permits now no longer require significant paperwork like site surveys or traffic studies. Restaurants that have already received permits for placing tables on sidewalks or in parking lots throughout the pandemic are allowed to continue

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Legislature Debates Civil Liability for Cases of COVID-19

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Connecticut is weighing joining 36 other states that have passed laws protecting businesses, nursing homes and universities from lawsuits for alleged violations of state-ordered COVID-19 protocols.  State Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, ranking member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, is sponsoring a bill that would shield businesses, nonprofits and other entities from lawsuits if they have “substantially complied” with the COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by the Department of Public Health and the Office of the Governor.  “What this bill would do is say, right at the outset of filing the suit, you can’t prevail because we followed the governor’s guidance,” Fishbein

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Wednesday Webinar on Benefits of Foreign Trade Zone for New London County Businesses

New London’s Foreign Trade Zone #208, which now covers all of New London County, will hold an introductory webinar on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. covering benefits and features of the foreign trade zone program.  Dan Carstens, a trade and logistics specialist accredited by the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones will lead the webinar, which is geared toward leaders in business, real estate, municipalities and economic development.  This follows the announcement on Dec. 20, that the region had received federal approval as an Alternative Site Framework, allowing the foreign-trade zone to include the entire county. This new designation means

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Federal Tax Case for Commuters a $400+ Million Question for Connecticut

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In 2018, 86,606 Connecticut residents paid $1.35 billion in New York state income taxes, according to the Empire Center. That was lost revenue for Connecticut – because the state credits residents for taxes paid out of state – but it also made sense. They commuted to New York, worked in New York, and were paid in New York.  In March 2020, that all changed.  With restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, thousands of workers who typically commuted across state lines were told to work from home.  As for their taxes? It’s now unclear which state has the

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Legislators Join Women’s Business Development Council to Share Advice on Weathering Pandemic

State legislators joined the Connecticut Women’s Business Development Council to host an informational webinar on Tuesday about resources available to women and minority business owners to weather the pandemic.  State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, joined Bipartisan Women’s Legislative Caucus members State Representatives Donna Veach, R-Berlin,  and Christie Carpino, R-Cromwell, and Women’s Business Development Council CEO Fran Pastore to share advice for small business owners.   “Typically, WBDC sees about 800 women a year from all over the state of Connecticut, but from March to November 2020, we increased that by 600 percent,” Pastore said. “We helped put an estimated $11

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Courtney Announces Federal Aid for Shellfish and Other Offshore Growers

NOANK — Under rainy skies turning sunny, Jim Markow, president of Mystic Oysters in Noank, joined by Rep. Joe Courtney, Gov. Ned Lamont and various state officials, spoke at a press conference on the dock outside of his business Tuesday to announce that after months of political pressure by Courtney and state’s congressional delegation, hard-hit shellfish, clam, kelp and seaweed growers are now eligible to receive aid from a USDA program, a change that could open the door to including aquaculture in the 2022 federal Farm Bill. “It’s a very, very small percentage but it’s something. Some is better than

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Lengthy Process, Little to Show for Connecticut Fisheries

Nearly seven months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, eligible fisheries and related businesses can apply for $1.8 million in economic aid through the CARES Assistance to Fishery Participants (CAAFP) program. On March 27, the CARES Act authorized U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to allocate $300 million in financial assistance to states, tribes and territories with coastal and marine fisheries that were negatively impacted by COVID-19. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) then made awards to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf

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Mohegan Gaming Set to Operate First Tribal Casino in Las Vegas History

There is path a clear for the Mohegan Tribe’s gaming operation to enter the largest gaming market in the United States. Nevada regulators on Wednesday gave initial approval for Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment to operate the 60,000 square-foot casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the former site of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a few blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. If the Nevada Gaming Commission approves a recommendation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board made — after a virtual meeting with Mohegan Gaming representatives on Wednesday — it will become the first tribal organization to operate a casino

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Mortgage Balances Rise, Borrowers Defer Payments, and Officials Target Abusive Collections

Although complaints of abusive collections remain relatively flat across Connecticut, state and federal officials see a growing debt problem that is ripe for abuse. According to Quarterly Reports from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the amount of debt that the public has accrued nationwide has gone up since the start of the pandemic.  Total household debt balances increased by $155 billion in the first quarter of 2020, an increase that was mainly driven by mortgage balances, which grew to $9.71 trillion. Household debt dropped in the second quarter by $35 billion, but mortgage balances increased by and additional

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Sun Communities Acquires 18 Marinas Across Connecticut and Rhode Island in $2.1 Billion Deal with Safe Harbor

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Sun Communities, a real estate investment trust based in Southfield, Michigan, announced the purchase of 104 marinas in 22 states — including 18 marinas across Connecticut and Rhode Island — in a deal valued at $2.1 billion in cash and stock. The marinas, currently owned and operated by Dallas-based Safe Harbor Marinas, include locations in Branford, Deep River, Essex, Mystic, Old Saybrook, Stamford, Stratford and Westbrook, and locations in Rhode Island including Barrington, Newport, Jamestown and Wickford, Warwick, and Portsmouth. With 40,000 members in its network, Safe Harbor is the largest marina enterprise in the United States.  In a conference

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Regal Cinemas Announces Shuttering of Theaters

Regal Cinemas announced today in a press release that it will be temporarily closing all 536 of its U.S. theaters, beginning this Thursday, October 8. There are currently four Regal Cinemas locations in Connecticut — in Waterford, Stonington, Waterbury and Branford.  Cineworld, Regal’s parent company, attributes the closing to the fact that certain key areas — particularly New York — have not allowed movie theaters to reopen.  The statement said that the reluctance of certain areas to reopen theaters have caused film studios to postpone releasing new films. Last Friday, producers of the James Bond film “No Time to Die”

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Survey Suggests Lack of Confidence in Connecticut’s Business Climate

The sharp economic downturn as a result of coronavirus has exposed a lack of confidence among business owners in state policies, according to a recent survey from the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.   The survey of 962 business owners in a variety of sectors found that 61 percent said that the business climate in Connecticut is “declining,” and 59 percent are predicting the state economy to contract in the next year.  57 percent of the companies surveyed had cut hours, laid off employees or furloughed workers during the pandemic.  While part of this decline is the direct result of the pandemic,

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Mystic Knotwork Recognized for Tradition and Innovation

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Matt Beaudoin started tying rope bracelets when he was 7 years old to earn his allowance.  Now, his Mystic Knotworks is a staple of the Mystic riverfront, and the small business administration named Beaudoin Connecticut Small Business Person of the Year, presenting the award to Matt and his wife Jill at their Cottrell Street workshop on Tuesday. Connecticut Small Business Development Center business advisor Matt Nemeth nominated Beaudoin for the award back in December because of the cultural importance of knotwork in southeastern Connecticut, and also for the workshop’s unique work practices. Beaudoin took over what was then “Beaudoin’s Rope

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New Guidelines For Connecticut Ease Bartending Restrictions at Restaurants and Events

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development has revised reopening guidelines to allow more flexibility for bar service at restaurants and events.  According to revised guidelines announced Thursday, workers at restaurant bars are no longer required to be behind a plastic shield when taking orders, serving food and drinks or collecting bills. They do, however, have to remain behind a shield while at “work stations” — areas where they are mixing drinks. Earlier regulations allowed patrons to sit at bars, but only as long as the entire bar was covered with plexiglass. Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut

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As Events Remain Sharply Limited by COVID, a Coalition Tries for Middle Ground with Lamont

As winter approaches without any indication of when restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be loosened for Connecticut, the events industry  — catering businesses, event venues, designers, florists, party rental companies, musicians and DJs — are banding together to ask state and federal officials for economic assistance and for the chance to reopen. The guidelines, put in place in the spring in a series of executive orders by Gov. Ned Lamont, currently limit gatherings to 25 people indoors and 100 people outside, including staff.  Shiran Nicholson, owner of the Knowlton, a venue in Bridgeport, said that those restrictions

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Openings for Insurance, 64,000 Jobs and $3 Billion Business Staked on China-U.S. Trade Tension for Connecticut

The so-called trade wars between the U.S. and China have affected businesses not only in Connecticut, but across the country. From 2018 to 2019, exports to China declined 11.5 percent and imports declined 16.2 percent, according to U.S. Census data. In the first half of 2020, imports from China declined an additional 17 percent. In part this is a result of the high tariffs both countries have levied —  tariffs which remain on $370 billion worth of Chinese goods imported into the United States and $110 billion worth of American goods exported to China. Paul Hebert, founder of the Manchester,

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