State Provides Minority Businesses With $2M Loan Fund

Last week, Gov. Malloy announced the state will provide $2 million to support minority contractors through the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCo).

By Connecticut law, 25 percent of funding allocated for public building projects, highway construction, and the purchase of goods and services must go to small businesses, and of that 6.25 percent must go to minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, or disadvantaged businesses with a net worth less than $750,000.

The grant award, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, will help HEDCo implement a Minority Business Enterprise Assistance Program, designed to help such businesses in the Hartford area obtain surety bonds: including bid, performance and payment bonds: for capital construction.

In addition, the program provides a revolving loan fund to assist minority contractors with working capital to cover costs incurred while awaiting payment during the construction phase of projects.

HEDCo already administers a similar bonding guaranty program that was created in 2006. Under the program, 110 bonds totaling $12.4 million have been guaranteed, with only one default.

Competitive Resources To Donate Co-pay

For every home energy efficiency audit performed, CBIA member Wallingford-based Competitive Resources, Inc. will donate $25 toward Connecticut energy assistance programs. CRI receives co-pays of $75 from electric and natural gas heating customers and $99 from fuel oil customers to perform Home Energy Solutions audits in their homes. The energy efficiency company also receives payments from the state utilities for its work.

For every assessment this summer, CRI will donate $25 to Bloomfield nonprofit Operation Fuel for its programs to provide money for energy bills for low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.

Through other initiatives, CRI has donated $875 this year to Operation Fuel.

Financial Firm Relocating to Greenwich with Help of State Loans

A White Plains-based financial firm is relocating its headquarters to Greenwich with the help of $5 million in loans and grants from the state of Connecticut, it was announced last week.

In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy's office announced that FSC CT and its Fifth Street affiliates, will bring approximately 50 jobs from its present location in White Plains, and plans to add at least 46 more jobs as it grows in the next decade.

FSC spokesman James Velgot said the firm expects to move into 44,000 square feet of space at 777 W. Putnam Ave., on the Greenwich-Port Chester border in about a year: the amount of time it is expected construction to fit the building for the company's needs.

The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will provide a 10-year, $4 million loan for the purchase and fit-out of the building. As the company reaches hiring milestones, up to $3 million of the loan may be forgiven. DECD will provide a $500,000 grant to fund job training and a $500,000 grant for the installation of a fuel cell, wind, or solar-powered energy system for the building.

Bailey's Express Featured in HBJ

CBIA member company Bailey's Express was recently featured in the Hartford Business Journal. When small Connecticut manufacturers need to move goods they typically call on a trucking company like Middletown's Bailey's Express. The company's fleet of 35 trucks and 75 employees serves as a "less-than-truckload" carrier, or LTL, helping move anything less than a full trailer of goods.

Trucking companies are a linchpin in the state's economy, providing key transportation services that ensure goods produced in a manufacturing plant are picked up, transported and delivered safely and on time to the end customer.

Fairfield U Launches Business Incubator Program

According to Fairdield Patch, Fairfield University, in collaboration with the Town of Fairfield Economic Development Department and Kleban Properties, has announced a unique business incubator program to help idea makers become successful entrepreneurs and business owners.

The new Fairfield University Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise (AME) will foster local and state economic growth by offering budding innovators the tools they need -- from guidance to funding to prime downtown office space -- to turn their ideas into realities. The target launch of AME is September 2013.

AME will feature up to five entrepreneurs chosen by a review board in a competitive selection process. Those selected will be provided with a suite of service that includes:

Shared office space in downtown Fairfield, courtesy of Kleban Properties;

Access to mentors and discounted services;

Technology resources;

Workshops;

Start-up funding.

Mentoring from Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business faculty and the area's robust business community will be a key component, providing educational workshops and other programs to help with ideation, valuation, and competitive analysis.

The shared office space will be located above the Fairfield University Bookstore. Renovations are nearly complete on the 1,300 square foot incubator site, which will feature work cubicles, open, collaborative spaces, and meeting rooms.

Entrepreneurs from the community who have a business plan they would like to develop are encouraged to apply to be a part of this incubator, where innovative ideas will be encouraged through networking, support services, and learning. The enterprise is also seeking investors and sponsors. Applications are open to adults as well as students and are not limited to technology businesses. For sponsorship and application information, email info@ameffld.com. To apply on-line, visit www.fairfield.edu/ame.

CT Company Selected for Audition Round in Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" Competition...

Simple Cups, the only disposable make-your-own K-Cup on the market, has been selected to compete in the Walmart "Get on the Shelf" contest. Simple Cups moves on to the Audition Round, featuring online voting to show Walmart judges how much support Simple Cups has with customers and provide insight into the product's commercial viability.

Simple Cups were developed and are distributed by Milford, CT based SCS Direct Inc. "Everyone who uses a Keurig needs Simple Cups. It saves money and you can have your coffee your way," said Howard Greenspan, owner of SCS Direct Inc. the developers of Simple Cups. "We are proud to represent Connecticut in the competition and we can't wait to get Simple Cups on the Walmart shelves!"

"Get on the Shelf", in its second year, is an "American Idol"-style contest that gives U.S. based small businesses a shot at winning placement on store shelved or virtual shelf space on Walmart.com. A top 20 will be chosen by an online vote and the finalists will be featured in a web series on the contest website. From that group, viewers will select five winners, and their products will be sold on Walmart.com. Those that generate the most pre-orders online might also be named grand prize winners and sold in select Walmart stores.

Let's help a Connecticut company. To vote for Simple Cups, visit https://getontheshelf.walmart.com/product/19c4/Simple-Cups

...And Torrington Company Contends For QVC Recognition

According to an article in the Register Citizens, a Torrington business owner is attempting to win a national customer choice award organized by a home-shopping network.

Holly DiMauro is owner of Holly's Oatmeal which specializes in various types and flavors of oatmeal. She is currently one of four nominees vying for the title of Best Breakfast Food in QVC's 2013 Customer Choice Food Survey. QVC is a home-shopping broadcast network that operates through television and online sales.

"I am up against big, huge companies," DiMauro said. "We're in Connecticut, in Torrington. We are a very small business. For us to be nominated, it's a very big deal."

DiMauro said she was nominated by someone and was notified of her nomination in July. Some of the other businesses nominated in the category include Smithfield and Jimmy The Baker's Old Time Bronx.

Anybody can vote. To help Holly win the category, visit the voting page and scroll to Best Breakfast.

"What I'm trying to do is to get as many local people as possible to vote," DiMauro said. "I tell people tell your kids, put it on Facebook, do whatever you need to do."

DiMauro said her product has sold out online through the QVC website. She earns a portion of the profit after it's sold online, which she said is a significant amount because the website allows her local product to be introduced and sold on a national level. She said customers as far off as Hawaii have ordered her oatmeal online.

More than $200,000-worth of her product has been sold with the help of QVC, DiMauro said. Currently, her 1-pound Box Variety Assortment package has a 4.5 star rating out of five in the QVC website. The partnership with QVC could potentially help her add more jobs to her business, which she said is another one of her personal goals.

Voting ends on August 25, and the winners of each category will be announced on a reveal show on September 11, according to a release from QVC.