Connecticut businesses provided a mixed bag of news in the annual survey conducted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
“As things get better you would hope the optimism would rise a little bit and it’s not quite there, yet,” said Joe Brennan, CBIA’s president.
On the whole, companies did report that individually, many are doing better.
Sixty-nine percent of businesses responded that they have been profitable over the past year, while the rest reported either now profit or that they lost money.
The harshest assessments had to do with the direction of the state of Connecticut, the performance of elected officials, and the state’s ability to develop and retain millennial employees.
Eighty-one percent of respondents said they either somewhat or strongly disapprove of the legislature’s handling of the economy and job creation, with 59 percent feeling strongly.
Ninety-seven percent of respondents said state policymakers focus too heavily on workplace mandates rather than prioritizing economic development and job creation.
The pessimism of the outlook is also specific, as many fear for what the next General Assembly and governor’s solutions may be to the state’s nearly $5 billion deficit projected over the next two years.
“Most of our folks firmly believe, as do I, that another round of large tax increases is going to do a lot more harm than good for this state,” Brennan said.
The issue of retaining millennials is one of the topics that CBIA and employers say the state and businesses need to come up with solutions for in the immediate future.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported that they have trouble finding and retaining millennial talent, while the remaining 33 percent reported no issue when it came to recruiting or holding on millennial employees.
“Recruitment here is very, very challenging,” said Lynn Fusco, president of Fusco Corporation, who was a panelist for CBIA during a discussion of the state’s economy. She said Connecticut has to come up with a way for its cities to compete with major urban centers that are both right around the corner and across the country.
“There’s a multitude of universities, I mean Boston, so many knapsacks walking around, it really seems like a college town and the Yale graduates seem to leave for New York or San Francisco or Boston. They don’t stay.”
Brennan says if the state can get its fiscal house in order, the state may be able to see some of the gains many other states have seen over the past few years.
“Confidence leads to investment. Investment leads to growth and job creation, so that’s what we really need, that path toward more jobs.”