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Small Business Week in Review, Feb. 18-24

Disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, White House actions to address ongoing economic pressures, efforts to finally return to the office, and the latest happenings in Connecticut are among the top items in small business news from the past week.

Russian invasion creates economic uncertainties

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is raising concerns about further disruptions to the global economy. There are fears that the situation could potentially create further inflation in areas such as oil, food, raw materials, and finished products. However, the economic impact may be determined by the extent of the conflict as well as the effect of new sanctions from the United States and Europe.

White House actions

The United States economy has posted positive signs, including 7 percent annual growth in its GDP in the fourth quarter of the year and unemployment claims falling to their lowest point in more than half a century. At the same time, economic pessimism is persisting as Americans cope with persistent inflation and supply chain issues.

The White House has launched several investments to strengthen its domestic supply of critical materials to help ease dependence on foreign markets, along with several measures designed to improve freight operations and minimize supply chain disruptions. The federal government also opened a large auction for offshore wind development rights off the coasts of New York and New Jersey.

Back to the office

Disruptions from COVID-19 variants have caused companies to push back target dates to return workers to the office, while also harming businesses like dry cleaners that rely on corporate culture. As infections from the Omicron variant wane, business leaders are hopeful that their next dates to return people to the workplace will stick.

While remote work shifts have had a major impact on commercial real estate, tech companies are still betting on office operations. Meanwhile, the transformation of retail spaces continues as commercial landlords begin welcoming medical professionals to unconventional retail spaces like shopping malls.

Connecticut news

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association is raising concerns about a mismatch between employment opportunities and job candidates in the state, saying there were 110,000 job openings in 2021 but that Connecticut’s labor force has shrunk 5 percent since February 2020. Connecticut has hired two workforce strategy leaders as part of an effort to connect 8,000 people with in-demand jobs in IT and health care.

Connecticut’s House Republicans are pitching aggressive tax cuts as part of this year’s legislative session, including relief for small and medium-sized businesses. The proposal includes taking $300 million from the state’s surplus to reduce business taxes as well as $50 million for a recurring annual credit.

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