COVID-19 has disrupted businesses across many industries in Connecticut. The crisis has been indiscriminate and has affected brands all the way from large industries to the small neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, as seen in this Hartford Courant list of closed establishments. Not surprisingly, it’s the medium and small enterprises that need the most help.
Fortunately, the state government has made plenty of headway for small businesses in Connecticut to aid them in their recovery efforts. There are a number of available credit programs, stimulus packages, and business grants that small businesses could apply for.
The challenges that businesses have faced also have major implications for the Connecticut workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment rates in the state started to soar in April as Connecticut businesses struggled to keep operations going, in light of the coronavirus outbreak. These figures do not bode well for the upcoming workforce, and both government and private organizations are trying to come up with solutions to address this issue.
One of the initiatives currently underway is a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club and Apple. As part of their 21st Century Academic Enrichment Program, the two organizations create a reimagined and innovative version of after-school programs. Under these programs, the local youth are trained in STEAM labs focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics contextualized in a future professional setting. Additionally, older students around 13 to 18 years old are invited to train in the Design Lab where they are taught design skills and receive career training. Both the STEAM lab and Design Lab are fully equipped with iPads and Mac computers provided by Apple.
When the students are ready, they are then partnered with local restaurants and other homegrown brands to help design logos and do creative work for these brands’ technology-led marketing efforts. This program empowers students to cultivate their skills and be ready for the future, while also providing an opportunity for local businesses to thrive. This envisioned ecosystem makes a positive impact on the area’s population and economy in the age of technological innovation.
The initiative could also encourage many of these students to become entrepreneurs, starting up their own firms in the state. Connecticut is an excellent state for startups and established enterprises alike. Startup costs for businesses in the state are minimal, and legislation passed in 2019 made sure that LLCs formed in Connecticut after January 1, 2019 no longer needed to pay the $250 biennial Connecticut Business Entity Tax (BET). This, coupled with innovative workforce training programs supported by brands like Apple, make business and employment prospects in Connecticut brighter than ever.
Despite the many hurdles this year, it’s becoming clear that Connecticut businesses are still thriving and have a lot to look forward to in the future. Programs like the Boys & Girls Club’s STEAM lab and Design Lab give the local youth skillsets in both technology and design—assets that could open up a world of possibilities ahead and maybe even help them land a job at Apple. If these are the types of individuals who are primed to join the Connecticut workforce, then there’s certainly an exciting future ahead.
Kyle Rylie has been an avid Apple supporter since the early days of the iPod. However, beyond an interest in Apple’s product development efforts, he’s also a supporter of Apple’s initiatives for corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community.
This is a collaborative post written by Kyle Rylie. The opinions expressed, including any recommendations are expressly those of the author. Apple Tech Talk has not evaluated the products or services discussed, and makes no recommendation regarding its use.