We have a Google+ page, but on our homepage we have ~280 +1s:
Is there any way to connect those likes to the business page? We have used the rel=publisher thing. Or do we have to start fresh like we have?
Yes, according to this Google blog post you can combine all your +1s from Google+, your site and search results.
I assume that's in your settings somewhere. It may not be there right now as they say they're introducing the badge in the coming days.