In business, you’re either growing or dying. At Pride Travel Centers, we are always looking for ways to grow, whether that’s growing offerings for customers or opportunities for employees. At Pride Travel Centers, our most recent way to do that is a brand new, environmentally friendly travel center a half-a-mile from the intersection of Interstate 91 and Interstate 84 in Hartford.
This new “Hartford Travel Center” will provide motorists and professional drivers with gasoline and diesel refueling, many great food choices with relaxing seating, electric vehicle re-charging stations, propane fueling, hydrogen fueling, and a much-needed rest area and introduction to the City of Hartford.
The center will pay millions of dollars in state and local taxes, employ more than 50 full-time, local employees who will also contribute to Connecticut’s tax base and economy, and offer more clean, alternative fuels than any single facility in the United States today.
Gov. Ned Lamont has said his economic development team’s mission is “to promote and champion Connecticut to businesses who wish to locate or grow here.” Why would the state help us get started and then cut us at the knees? The reality is that tolls will hurt existing Connecticut businesses and drive away prospective companies that are considering locating here.
Why would the state help us get started and then cut us at the knees?
Tolls discourage businesses from investing in a particular area. Site selection strategists try to avoid sites near tolls. The last thing cities like Hartford need is a blow to our business friendly image and to Connecticut’s recruiting power. It is easy to understand that if you significantly increase the cost of doing business in an area, you make that area, or in this case the entire state, less competitive.
Tolls drive up shipping costs and increase the costs of goods for all of us. They impact restaurants and all businesses. They will put all Connecticut businesses at a competitive disadvantage and further drive up the cost of working, living and operating in Connecticut.
Another concern is that tolls shift traffic patterns. They will affect restaurants and hotel businesses when drivers go around toll gantries, simultaneously adding traffic to smaller roadways and ensnarling local communities. My new travel center’s customer base will decline, and my employees will face the choice of paying a toll to get to and from work or extending their commute to avoid this new cost.
Tolls have very real, negative economic consequences for both businesses and residents. Do we want Connecticut businesses to grow or die? The outcome on tolls will say all we business leaders need to know. For the sake of Connecticut’s economy, legislators should reject tolls in the upcoming special session.
Robert Bolduc is the CEO of Pride Travel Centers.
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