Union Station’s Parking Plan

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We hear often from the business community that an aging transportation infrastructure is a hindrance on our economy.

Last week, James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and several members of the CTDOT design and project management team met with the Chamber’s Economic Development and Governmental Affairs Committee to share details on the proposed plan to expand New Haven’s Union Station parking garage.

The project, which is slated to be completed in 2018, will add approximately 1,000 parking spots, a new bus depot to improve bus and taxi flow, and integrate a bike-friendly hub and possible retail space.  The Commissioner has pegged the cost of the expansion at $40 million to $60 million, with funding coming from the state.

The CTDOT is currently working with city planners and designers to make the Union Station expansion meet the needs of Connecticut’s residents and commuters more effectively. The design is not fully decided. Some city leaders have disagreed with parts of the plan. There are  differences from what the City and the State want, and although everyone is working to reach agreement, it may not happen. More from WTNH’s News 8 here.

We are encouraged by the progress being made in New Haven to modernize the Union Station parking garage. By investing in our transportation system, Connecticut can be put on a more stable path toward future economic growth.

Let us know what you think.

Help us Reach our GOAL!

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On Monday, July 25, The Greater New Haven Chamber will host the Annual Gladys and John Soto Scholarship Golf Classic at the New Haven Country Club in Hamden, Connecticut.

Through the generous support of the golfers and the Sotos, this event benefits the Foundation of the Greater New Haven Chamber’s GOAL Scholarship Fund.

The GOAL Scholarship is given to New Haven-area students interested in pursuing a college degree in business. Last summer, The Foundation raised $9,200 for GOAL and awarded scholarships to six undergraduates in the region.

We’d like to top that and hope you’ll help us reach our goal by making an online donation.  Here, you can read more about each of this year’s scholarship recipients and even select which scholarship recipient you’d like your donation to go to.

100% of your donation goes directly to the scholarship recipients, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductible.

For player registration or to learn more about the Gladys and John Soto Scholarship Golf Classic, please contact Jenna Kozodoy at 203-782-4342. To make a tax-deductible donation to the GOAL Scholarship program, please visit youcaring.com.

10 Tips for Tracking Your Marketing Efforts

10TIPS_blog by Will Melton, president of Xponent21, Inc.

I’m often amazed when I begin working with a new client to find that they have no real means of measuring how successful their investments in marketing have been.

Considering that, on average, companies spend over 10% of their budget on marketing, it would make basic business sense that a company has a firm understanding of how well its investment was performing.

So why do so many small businesses fail to effectively measure their marketing? Having spent eight years at the helm of a small, non-marketing business, I was guilty of the same failing. The main metric we used to understand the effectiveness of our marketing was to compare marketing spending to monthly or quarterly profits or losses, or we just used anecdotal evidence. The real reason was that we didn’t know a better way to measure.

In hindsight, I realize how silly this was. With so many moving parts to an overall marketing strategy not closely tracking the results of individual ad investments made it difficult to truly understand what worked and what didn’t. We likely ended up spending more on things that didn’t work and perhaps even got rid of investments that were performing well. I am still responsible for the marketing at that company and we’ve shaped up our ship on the measuring front.

Fortunately for you, there are many solutions available at a low cost to help you measure your marketing effectiveness. Having a plan to measure your marketing comes at the top of the list. Continue reading

Incentives to Help You Fill High Tech Positions

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The Greater New Haven Chamber and Workforce Alliance are partnering to put people back to work into good jobs that use their proven abilities.

The Ready to Work initiative is a program to fulfill hiring needs of employers in high tech positions and to connect job seekers with employers.

Through the program, Workforce Alliance can reimburse qualified employers up to 75% of the wages paid to workers being trained on-the-job, helping to offset training costs. There is no geographical restriction for job seekers or employers. The training period varies depending on the job requirement and the job seeker’s skill level. The Chamber urges large and small businesses to take advantage of this opportunity.

Here’s how it works.  Your company has a job opening for a skilled individual. You pick the new hire, or Workforce Alliance refers eligible, pre-screened people to you for an interview.  You make the final decision about hiring. Once the selected person is on the payroll, on-the-job training begins and you receive reimbursement. Training takes place in your establishment, using your equipment and training techniques.

For example, for a technical position making $25/hr. which needs 200 hours of training, a small firm would spend $5,000 in wages during the training period and would be reimbursed 75% of that, or $3,750.

Workforce Alliance encourages the success of every trainee by tracking the candidate’s progress during and after the training period. They can also support theoretical instruction, certification of licensing-ready employees, or even the development of training standards. To learn more about on-the-job training and what it can mean for your business, contact Steve Johnson – 203-867-4030 x233 or sjohnson@workforcealliance.biz.

The Importance of Protecting Your Benefit Plans in the Event of a Department of Labor Audit

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by Janet M. Nahorney, CPA, BlumShapiro

 A recent study by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) examined the quality of employee benefit plan audits and found that nearly 40% of the audits tested had serious problems.  A notification was sent to plan administrators across the country with over 100 participants who require an independent financial statement audit.  This notification reminded plan administrators of their responsibility to engage a quality CPA firm who has the expertise to properly perform the benefit plan audit in accordance with standards.  Failure to meet audit quality standards and plan compliance regulations could prove financially harmful for these companies and their participants, so care must be taken to ensure these plans are being administered correctly.

To meet your fiduciary responsibilities, companies with benefit plans should take care to secure the right external support to ensure compliance with DOL and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) standards.  This entails engaging appropriate external expertise, including third party administrators, custodians/trustees, legal counsel and auditors.   The DOL study indicates that auditing firms that are too small or have a small benefit plan practice have a much higher percentage of audit deficiency rates, and conversely those with the depth of experience and a dedicated benefit plan practice result in rates that are much lower.

Here are some critical questions you should ask to make sure your company is in the right hands regarding the integrity of its benefit plan audit: Continue reading

No to Hospital Tax

Governor Malloy recently released budget recommendations that include $120 million in additional hospital cuts. Legislators have crafted a budget that protected this hospital funding. Given that the Appropriations Committee-approved budget does not fully address the projected deficit for next year, Committee members and legislative leaders are meeting again to consider additional cuts.

We ask that you contact your state legislators immediately and ask for their commitment to protecting hospital funding.

The hospital tax and Medicaid under reimbursement increase the cost of health care to CT businesses and residents. I am concerned that continued hospital tax increases will further destabilize CT hospitals and reduce access to care.

Ask your legislators to commit to protecting funds that would be paid to hospitals from the supplemental pool, as well as protecting Medicaid funding.  Let them know that the hospital tax and Medicaid under reimbursement increase the cost of health care to CT businesses and residents.