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Local enterprises qualify for new Small Business Express grants

February 21, 2012 Areawide, Business, Local News No Comments

Connecticut Casket Company, based in Willimantic, CT is one of five small businesses to recently qualify for state EXP grants aimed specifically at companies with fewer than 50 employees. Besides caskets and urns, the company also makes keepsake necklaces with glass beads that are infused with the ashes of your loved one (including your four-footed family members). Each one is unique and can be made in any color. Photo source: Connecticut Casket Company web site

Five small businesses have qualified for grants through the state’s Small Business Express Program (EXP) to expand their businesses and create jobs.

EXP is part of the bi-partisan jobs bill passed during the October 2011 special legislative session. Administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the program offers loans and matching grants to Connecticut companies with fewer than 50 employees.

In total, EXP will provide $100 million to help qualified small businesses hire more employees and fund capital investments.

According to DECD Commissioner Catherine Smitt, “This program is about getting working capital out the door quickly and efficiently so that our smaller companies can put it to work for them immediately and start putting more of Connecticut’s residents to work… This program is building momentum; we’re constantly getting new submissions from interested business owners and we’re approving new applications every day.”

The five small businesses that most recently qualified for the program are:

Connecticut Casket Company started designing, making and selling custom, environmentally-friendly caskets in Willimantic in 2010.

The company, which will retain three employees and hire three more within a year, will receive a $100,000 grant to buy equipment, improve the shop, train workers and expand its inventory. Connecticut Casket also will receive a Job Creation Incentive loan of $250,000.

“This investment will be a big help to the Connecticut Casket Company. It will allow this Windham business to hire more workers and grow our local economy,” said State Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham). “Governor Malloy is clearly focused on the needs of small businesses in eastern Connecticut and I want to thank him for his strong support.”

Said Sen. Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn), “Bill Covey and his employees represent the small business success story that is critical to Connecticut’s economy… The programs we passed last year are making a difference at a time when our businesses need it the most.”

Wooden-it-be-Nice, Inc., a consignment furniture company based in Marlborough with a facility in Glastonbury, provides a retail solution for selling second-hand furniture and accessories.

The company will use its $11,500 grant in working capital for inventory and processing, marketing and job creation/retention efforts, including training.

State Rep. Pam Sawyer (R-Andover, Bolton, Hebron, Marlborough) said, “This new approach, giving grants to small businesses in a short time frame, often in small amounts, can have a big impact on a company. Wooden-it-be-Nice is a perfect example. It is what was envisioned when the jobs bill passed last October.”

State Sen. Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), who represents Glastonbury, Manchester, Bolton and Marlborough said, “Our October investment in growing Connecticut jobs and its economy is paying off, and paying off handsomely. And it doesn’t make a difference if you’re a high-tech medical device manufacturer or a furniture consignment shop – if you’re a small business looking to expand, if you’re looking to hire, Connecticut is here to help.”

State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan (R-Glastonbury) called Wooden-it-be-Nice “an exemplary member of the Glastonbury business community.”

Norwich Printing Company was founded and incorporated in 1992 as part of the Minuteman Press Franchise and has since grown from a two-person operation to eight full-time employees. The company plans to grow even further by using its $48,357 grant to buy four new pieces of equipment.

“I am so happy that the Norwich Printing Company is getting this funding to expand its production capabilities,” said State Sen. Edith Prague (D-Columbia). “News like this is proof that the Governor’s jobs bill is working, which is why I voted for the measure last October. This is wonderful news for the Norwich community, and the Governor should be commended for his vision for job creation.”

Elka Precision of Plainville designs and manufactures hydrostatic spindles, tables and slides that improve grinding accuracy and reduce grinding times for the overall improvement of machined products.

Elka Precision plans to begin an aggressive campaign to market its products overseas, including European and Asian markets.

The company, which plans to hire eight new employees, will receive a Job Creation Incentive loan of $250,000 to use for equipment, training, travel and other related expenses.

My Three Sons (Petrini Six Enterprises) is an indoor family entertainment center in Norwalk. The company will use a $50,000 grant from DECD to purchase new equipment that will increase customers and revenue.

For more information on EXP or to apply for the program, visit the Small Business Express Program website or contact Michelle Lugo at DECD at 860-270-8052 or Michelle.Lugo@ct.gov

Posted Feb. 21, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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