HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH — Connecticut’s economic outlook for 2023 was top of mind on Thursday as the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) hosted hundreds of business leaders at the Hartford Marriott.

Business leaders said the biggest threat to the COVID-19 recovery is not filling positions.

Michael Rocheleau, the executive vice president at PTA Plastics in Oxford, has 125 employees but needs more.

“We have job openings,” he said. “We have job openings from our machine operator or assembler to skilled positions.”

PTA Plastics supply the medical device industry. Finding skilled workers is challenging.

“You look at the training programs we have, and we probably have five seats with one person to fill them across the state,” Rocheleau said.

In Connecticut, 97,000 jobs are open.

“The jobs are here. What we need is the workforce to fill those jobs,” said Chris DiPentima, the president of CBIA.

With a low unemployment rate and state coffers full, Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) told the crowd. He is focused on making getting people back to work easier, including investments in affordable daycare, better pay, and housing.

“We have not built housing in this state in an awfully long time,” Lamont said. “We are paying the price for that right now.”

Business leaders said those solutions of daycare, better pay, and housing would help them get more workers.

Rick Mullins from Infiniti Fuel Cell in Windsor said a college education is crucial too.

“I tapped over 291 colleges and universities in our area to get access to that future workforce coming to Connecticut,” Mullins said. “We had great success from March to October. We grew by 30%, and we’re continuing to grow.”

Taxes are always a challenge for businesses. The governor announced earlier this week he is reinstating the full credit on the pass-through entity tax for small businesses. For families earning under $200,00 a year, a middle-class tax cut.

“I am looking at that 5% tax bracket and seeing if we can make some adjustments there that help just, you know, helps, you know, working families and essential workers the most, but provides some real relief to people earning, say, up to $200,000,” Lamont said.”

Business leaders said stability in the year to come would be key.