CT Business Leaders Discuss Value of Internet Tools, Access with Sen. Blumenthal

Access to data, solid internet infrastructure, and low cost comprehensive internet platforms critical to businesses’ success

HARTFORD, CT – Business leaders from small companies across Connecticut briefed Sen. Richard Blumenthal this week at a roundtable hosted by the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center and Business Forward. The discussion focused on how Connecticut small businesses are leveraging technology and internet platforms to reach new markets, lower their operating costs, and identify workers with hard-to-find skills.

Click here for photos of the event.

Wanting Zhang is a co-founder of junzi. Started in New Haven, Connecticut, junzi is a new-generation Chinese restaurant with a focus on updating the narrative of Chinese food in America through combining Northern Chinese traditions and modern culinary ideas. A second junzi opened last July near Columbia University and is quickly expanding in downtown and midtown Manhattan.

“The internet empowers startups like mine to think, grow, and connect with our team and customers like never before. It has become such integral part of our business’ infrastructure. From the inception of an idea to making execution plans to measuring success, every day we do everything online – collaborating in real time on cloud-based documents, collecting data to build analysis that helps us select new store locations, communicating with our employees, sharing and connecting directly with our customers on social media, to visualizing our data and helping us make daily operational decisions.”

The discussion also covered how businesses, government, and community groups can work together to ensure all Connecticut businesses have the resources and opportunities they need to fully harness the power of technology to fuel local growth. Sen. Blumenthal discussed his Committee work related to technology policy and the importance of net neutrality.

“Small businesses succeed – and grow jobs – when the government and the private sector are partners for progress,” said Blumenthal. “Investing in our infrastructure and expanding access to high speed broadband service are key components to spurring growth and development in Connecticut. I will continue to work with businesses to help them expand.”

Michael Klein and his partner Basile Tzovolos own Frame It Easy in Derby, a company that manufactures and sells custom, Connecticut-made picture frames on the internet. He said that public policy doesn’t always keep up with technology – and that can make it hard for new businesses to get off the ground. He explained that when Frame It Easy was new, they had trouble securing credit because banks didn’t understand that, as an internet business, they took payments before they built the products they were selling. That meant they had no “accounts receivable,” which was a red flag for bankers. Now, he’s focused on making sure small businesses can take advantage of the same big data tools large businesses often build themselves.

“It’s important for lawmakers to understand that big data can really help a small business grow,” said Klein. “We rely on a range of internet tools to keep our business operating, but online ads have been especially important – we’ve seen our business grow five-fold as a result of our internet advertising. I hope any new regulations are nuanced enough to protect individual privacy while ensuring small businesses like mine continue to have access to the data and business tools available on the internet.”

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ABOUT BUSINESS FORWARD
Business Forward is making it easier for more than 100,000 business leaders from across America to advise Washington on how to create jobs and accelerate our economy. Business Forward is active in over 125 cities and works with more than 600 mayors, governors, members of Congress, and senior Administration officials.

Business leaders who have participated in our briefings have seen their suggestions implemented in the Affordable Care Act, the JOBS Act, the Clean Power Plan, the Toxic Substances Control Act, three trade agreements, and the President’s budgets. Many have also shared their recommendations with their representatives in Congress and through phone calls, op-eds, and interviews with local media. Ninety-eight out of 100 business leaders who have participated in a Business Forward briefing would be interested in participating in another one.

ABOUT THE UNVERSITY OF HARTFORD ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER and Women’s Business Center

The University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center provides personalized business advising, educational programs, technical assistance, and networking events for new and expanding small businesses in Connecticut. While both women and men utilize the Centers’ services, they specifically reach out to women, minority-owned businesses, and other underserved constituents to help turn ideas into viable businesses and help break-even companies become sustainable, profitable, and scalable enterprises. The Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center are part of the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, named one of the nation’s most outstanding business schools by The Princeton Review.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Kerr
ekerr@businessfwd.org
202-861-1271