TRUMBULL, Conn. — Business people and entrepreneurs gathered to embrace the theme “Trumbull is working for you” at the town's first-ever business networking event last week.
Thirteen small business funders and support group representatives gathered at Trumbull Town Hall. They offered their elevator pitches to local entrepreneurs, small business owners, advisors and bankers.
Co-host Rina Bakalar, Trumbull’s Director of Economic and Community Development, told a room filled with over 30 guests that the goal of this first of its kind event is to “connect businesses with resources they may not know are available.”
First Selectman Tim Herbst offered a video introduction, adding that Trumbull is working to attract businesses of all sizes and types.
Trumbull’s State Sen. Marilyn Moore and Reps. David Rutigliano, Laura Devlin and Ben McGorty each commented on the strengthening state support for small businesses.
Ralph Sather, chair of Trumbull’s Economic and Community Development Commission, said the commission “will help you locate your business here.”
Lindy Lee Gold talked about the Small Business Express program that funds working capital and term loans of $10,000 to $400,000, provides equity and makes grants to businesses that create new jobs — particularly to those in high skill and knowledge-based sectors.
Glendowlyn Thames said “We want to be the state that supports entrepreneurs.”
Thames' Connecticut Innovations’ Small Business Innovation Group invests in early stage technology businesses to “create economic impact though job growth,” along with access to experienced entrepreneurs as consultants.
Jim Bzdyra, president and CEO of the Community Economic Development Fund, targets more traditional businesses — and community groups. They are the “SBA’s top microloan lender in Connecticut,” a nonprofit funded by 24 banks that also provides clients with workshops, advice and regular consulting support.
Ben Bissell from WorkPlace talked about the success his group is having in helping the long-term unemployed return to the workforce. They “have placed 80 percent of their clients statewide over the last two years,” and back their clients with a “try before you buy program,” through which WorkPlace pays the first four weeks of a new hire’s salary.
Helping our environment is increasingly beneficial, Bob Wall said. Connecticut Green Bank funds energy efficient projects — case in point, the Trumbull Center Fire District. It recently replaced a diesel generator with a natural gas unit that works on demand, and installed LED lighting whose sensors turn units on and off automatically. The savings will more than fund repayment of the project’s costs.
And Trumbull Library Reference Librarian Linda Panovich-Sachs reminded the group that the library is a great reference resource. It sponsors about 15 business-oriented programs a year and hosts meetings of groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, SCORE and Connecticut Department of Labor. And it offers a Librarian by Appointment through which anyone can get 15 minutes of research guidance from a staff reference librarian.
After the presentations were completed, the speakers remained, talking one-on-one with attendees, and pointing them toward resources that may not have known were available.