DECD commissioner speaks at Quinnipiac Chamber Expo

DECD commissioner speaks at Quinnipiac Chamber Expo


NORTH HAVEN — The highlight of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce Expo 2015 was the keynote speech by Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

The 65 exhibitors and representatives of nearly 1,000 local businesses that participated in the event, including many small business owners, heard Smith describe state efforts to assist local businesses with the Small Business Express program. The initiative offers matching grants of up to $100,000 and loans of up to $300,000 for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

The program started in November and has provided 1,308 companies with more than $190 million in financial assistance, Smith said. Seven North Haven companies have received assistance.

Craig Becker, managing partner of IMC, a business technology firm with offices on Sackett Point Road, said he applied for assistance from DECD in November and received a $40,000 grant and $87,000 loan.

“We had six employees and increased the staff to eight, adding a director of development and engineer,” he said. “We also used the funding to increase our marketing budget and the infrastructure. The program was very helpful.”

Smith was happy for the feedback from Becker and said companies can use the funding for job expansion, acquiring property, construction and training. She said the program will assist important business sectors, including health and financial services, manufacturing, information technology, real estate, and hospitality and tourism.

Richard LoPresti, North Haven’s economic development commission chairman, spoke at a follow-up session with Tim Ryan, his counterpart in Wallingford. The two discussed town economic development efforts.

First Selectman Mike Freda and Tony Rescigno, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce chairman, welcomed Smith to the event, applauding her on her corporate business career before joining the state commission. “I live in Northford and frequent many of your businesses, so I’m happy to be here,” she said.

The event was held at the Best Western Hotel.

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