seCTerRise funding strengthens area businesses

Business resiliency efforts have increased significantly with the implementation earlier this year of the seCTerRise growth funding program.

In just a matter of months, 19 area businesses have been able to strengthen their operations through the expansion or renovation of facilities, additional staffing, increased services or product lines, and other forms of growth. The seCTerRise program provides each qualifying applicant up to $20,000 in grant funding.

seCTer screens applicants, disperses funds, and monitors use of the grant money, which is provided by the state Department of Economic and Community Development through its business resiliency and sustainability efforts aimed at eastern Connecticut.

This latest round of seCTerRise funding will benefit the following six small businesses:

First Impressions Learning Academy of Ledyard offers early childhood education from infant to 5, with a capacity of 55. In addition to providing learning experiences from problem-solving to critical thinking and social/emotional wellness, their goal is to be the community hub and safe place for the empowerment of children and families. The grant will be used to train and onboard new employees.

Ice & Fire Chen of Norwich is a cornerstone in the Norwich community, recognized for its outstanding Chinese cuisine, excellent service, and friendly staff. Ice & Fire Asian Cuisine is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes and its insistence on only using high-quality fresh ingredients. The grant will be used to update kitchen and storage equipment.

Lashes by Lee of New London is a minority and women-owned full-service salon and academy. In addition to offering full salon services, they are approved by the State to teach and license in the beauty industry in both English and Spanish. Grant funds will be used to renovate the basement of the salon into an education studio with space to accept more students and offer a broader curriculum.

Luque Realty of New London opened in 2020 after Carlos Luque gained experience during eight years of work in other agencies providing real estate brokerage services to home buyers, sellers, and renters. Grant funding will be used to purchase realtor licensing courses to help hire agents for the agency and purchase CRM software to further grow the agency.

Sweet Grass Creamery of Preston is a micro-dairy and creamery producing milk, yogurt, and cheese on site from their herd of 30 Jersey cows. They are unique in that they own and manage the entire process from managing the herd, growing their feed (hay and corn) and processing the dairy products right on the farm. Grant funds will be used to purchase a bale wrapper, which will aid in the feeding of the herd.

The Ditty Bag of Mysticis a zero-waste market and café with a mission to help customers reduce their plastic use and carbon footprint by providing bulk foods, plastic-free products, and locally grown and sourced products. Their mission is catching on and they need to expand. Their seCTerRise grant will be used to purchase additional shelving and display features, hire part-time staff, increase marketing and consumer education, and purchase additional inventory.

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