Here's a run down of some small business news items that were announced during December, 2011.

U.S. Baird Site to Become Brewery

According to an article posted on stratfordstar.com, Two Roads Brewing plans to create a brewery, and 70 jobs, at the former U.S. Baird factory on Stratford Avenue in Stratford, CT. Two Roads announced last week that it has completed an $18 million financing to build a "state-of-the-art" brewing facility.

Long-time friends and business associates Brad Hittle, Peter Doering and Clem Pellani are teaming up to fulfill a brewing dream. Hittle and Pellani worked together in the 1990s on various craft brewing projects and more recently on several craft beer projects at Pabst Brewing Company, where Hittle was chief marketing officer for five years. Doering is Hittle's long-time friend, both having grown up and resided in Connecticut, and brings manufacturing, operations and financial expertise.

The team is in discussions with several nationally recognized brewers to bring in a fourth partner, according to a press release.

Two Roads Brewing Company is purchasing and revitalizing what it called one of New England's many idle landmark manufacturing buildings, built the early 1900s. Situated on 6.6 acres, the building is on the site of the U.S. Baird Corporation, where machines and other parts were made for 100 years.

Two Roads Brewing Company will complete its renovations and equipment installations over the summer and will begin brewing its craft beers at that time.

The company will launch a preliminary web site at www.tworoadsbrewing.com in the coming weeks.

SBA Announces Tibbetts Awards

The Tibbetts Awards are presented to those small businesses and individuals judged to exemplify the best in the SBIR program. The award is named for Roland Tibbetts, acknowledged as the father of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and is presented to companies and individuals that promote the mission and goals of the SBIR program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR).

Nominations will be accepted now and will close on January 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM ET. Anyone can nominate a business and/or individual for a Tibbetts Awardincluding self-nominations. Nomination packages must be submitted through the Challenge.gov portal using the "Enter a Submission" tab. Please note, you will need to establish a free account with Challenge.gov in order to submit any nominations. For more information, visit http://tibbetts.challenge.gov/

Ash Creek Enterprises, Inc. Appoints New President

Ash Creek Enterprises, Inc., one of Connecticut's leading IT service providers, announced this month that is has promoted Mark Calzone to the position of company President.

Calzone joined the company 11 years ago and has held various positions within the company, technical, marketing, sales and operations. He has been instrumental inhelping to grow the company's client base and greatly contributed to the company's double digit growth since its inception.

Calzone is a Cisco CSE, He is a member of Cisco Small Business Board and made the Fairfield County 40 under 40 List in 2011.

Rite Solutions Receives Funds for Combat System of the Future

Rite Solutions Incorporated, Pawcatuck, Connecticut, is being awarded a $14,404,724 modification to previously awarded contract. This contract is a phase III small business innovative research topic number N05-149, "Combat System of the Future," to perform research, development, and engineering services. Rite Solutions will apply unique humans systems integration processes leading to command decision modules and supporting infrastructures, command and control center configurations, and other technical support work associated with topic N05-149 applicable to Navy submarines, surface, and air platforms. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Eastern CT SBDC Names New Director

Marcie Boyer has been named the new business development adviser for the CT Small Business Development Center at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. There are several centers scattered across the state's other universities, Eastern Connecticut in Willimantic, Western Connecticut in Danbury, Central Connecticut in New Britain and Southern Connecticut in New Haven. The center's headquarters is housed at Central Connecticut's business-incubator building in downtown New Britain.

The small-business centers provide free counseling and technical assistance to small-business owners and entrepreneurs across this state. The centers play an important role in helping to strengthen Connecticut's $211 billion economy by offering the support, resources and services that are needed to establish new firms and grow existing businesses and entrepreneurial ventures.

Congress Reauthorizes SBIR Funding Program

This month, the U.S. Congress reauthorized the Small Business Innovation Research funding program for six more years, allowing venture-backed small companies a greater share of the multi-million program.

Under SBIR, federal agencies such as departments of Agriculture, Defense, Commerce, Education and Energy allocate 2.5 percent of their budgets to fund innovation projects at small companies that pertain to that federal agency's needs. Over the past 10 years, Connecticut companies received $257 million in SBIR awards.

This year's reauthorization was under contention because Congress was considering allowing venture-backed companies to receive up to 45 percent of the total SBIR funding. Small businesses without venture funding cried foul claiming that would allow large corporation to receive SBIR funding through smaller subsidiaries.

Congress ultimately decided to open up 25 percent of SBIR funding to venture-back companies from some federal agencies and 15 percent from others. The reauthorization was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

A Number of Small Businesses Apply for New State Help

According to an AP report filed last week, Connecticut's top economic development official said Friday that her office had received 95 applications for the state's new small business assistance program and that she expects more will be filed.

The Small Business Express Program includes three initiatives: a revolving loan fund, a matching grant program and a job creation incentive program.

The Department of Economic and Community Development's commissioner, Catherine Smith, said businesses have been seeking loans and grants for things such as new equipment and for help hiring more employees and covering shortfalls. Smith said Friday that interest from businesses "has exceeded my expectations."