I was invited this noontime to a lunch for women business owners with Linda McMahon, the U.S. Senate candidate. We had a very nice meal at Cave a Vin, a new wine bar on State Street in New Haven. Ms. McMahon is doing a listening tour of the state to hear what problems women businesses are having in the current economic climate. Several things emerged as themes: the cost of governmental regulation compliance; taxes; health care costs; and, most of all, the sad state of the economy. The last item comes down to jobs, of course, and is most evident in what sector? You guessed it--real estate. It was surprising how much effect real estate has on the business fortunes of firms in other lines of work. Real estate matters to everyone.
It was also clear that many of the businesses represented were not making money at the present time. Some owners were not paying themselves (this was more common than I would ever have guessed). Others were retooling their firms, and their skills, to find new and different ways to attract revenues. Those in retail spoke often about the lack of disposable income among their patrons.
We didn't expect any immediate or easy answers, and we didn't get them. To her credit, Ms. McMahon made no campaign promises, took no pot shots at incumbents, and seemed really to be there to listen and learn. We all learned, and the enduring message we took away was that women needed to be cooperative and help each other succeed. That is something that men should be able to buy into as well!