Legislators talk with Milford, Orange businesspeople
MILFORD >> State Reps. Pam Staneski, R-119, and Charles Ferraro, R-117, toured several city businesses in an effort to stay connected.
They were joined in Orange by House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-114.
It is important to meet “face to face” with people in business, Klarides said.
The walk was designed to let business owners and workers about state laws affecting them, Staneski said.
Ferraro said he would use the information gained “to help promote the great businesses in Milford and Orange and foster a healthy business environment for the state.”
Ferraro, who owns a small business in West Haven, said “the most important thing” small businesses have is their relationships with their customers.
• In Orange, the three visited Cellini Design Jewelers and Material Girls and discussed the newest laws affecting businesses.
Each business person spoke of how Connecticut taxes make doing business very difficult and expensive.
• In Milford, Jim Wilson, of Milford Photo, said he was concerned that more businesses would follow General Electric’s lead and leave Connecticut for states with lower taxes and costs.
• Deborah Coelho, owner and sole employee of Give the Dog a Bath on the Boston Post Road, Milford, discussed competition, and the difficulty of competing with the “big-box stores.”
Dog owners can bring Give the Dog a Bath their dogs and give them baths, shampoo, flea treatments or ear wraps.
They also spoke about taxes on small business and efforts to repeal the business entity tax.
• Staneski and Ferraro visited with Gary Montano, owner of Montano Cigarettes, Candy and Tobacco.
They discussed issues specific to cigarette distributors, including a 50 percent tax on cigars and products to roll your own cigarettes, while other states, such as Pennsylvania have no such tax.
They also discussed the downgraded bond rating and the state’s economy.
Montano said his business pays $1 million a week in tobacco and cigarette tax to the state.
• A visit to Colony Paint and Wallpaper, a Benjamin Moore retailer owned by the Bogert family and co-owned by Jeff Lobdell, brought a discussion with Tom Bogert about the state’s paint stewardship program, in which customers pay a tax in order to fund the recycling of paint and paint cans.
• At the Mod House Vaporium legislators discussed changes to the electronic cigarette and vapor laws, including requirements that everything is child-locked and that modifications can only be done by manufacturers. They also talked of taxes on small businesses, which they agreed were too high.
The businesses visited were:
• Orange: Cellini Design Jewelers, Material Girls, Consignment Originals.
• Milford: Canvas Patch, Lovet Shop, Whispers, Galina’s, Stonebridge Restaurant, MJKS Woodworking, Duck Duck Goose, Ultimate Interiors, The Gilded Lily, Breakfast and Lunch at the Corner, The Mod House, Milford Photo.
Lawmakers ended their tour by sharing what they learned with Ann Harrison of Workforce Alliance, a nonprofit that provides employment resources to anyone in 30 towns, including Milford and Orange.