As a small business owner, being fiscally prudent is tantamount. For me, that means making strategic decisions about how I spend my money. As much value as I see in joining the myriad associations available to me, I cannot respond to every invitation. But I joined CBIA.

My business, the Voices of Women of Color, is a grassroots advocacy firm, which provides political and issue-based outreach. The lion’s share of people who are paid by the Voices, either as consultants or part-time employees, are female. They are mostly single mothers doing everything they can to make ends meet. They, too, are impacted by the political decisions at the local and state level, and there are times when business and community issues are at odds.

Despite that, becoming a member of CBIA was important for me as a woman-owned business, in large part because of the value CBIA’s Education & Workforce Partnership provides to the communities we serve.

I was invited to attend the Partnership’s launch party earlier this month, and was incredibly inspired by the personal stories shared by the program participants. I heard from 7th-grader Caliya Bowen, who is now excited about learning because of her Hartford school’s Lighthouse initiative, as well as Tiffany Bayreuther, who credited the Green STEP program with putting her in a position to work at Lantern Energy after graduating from the CT Technical High School System.

Through partnerships with educational institutions, CBIA is supporting these young women and others in their career paths. I recognized that evening that CBIA is about more than lobbying, it is about building the state economy by supporting businesses now and in the future.

As a woman of color, I am painfully aware of disparities beyond gender. But I am also aware that addressing these disparities requires strategic approaches on many levels, not just through legislation.

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