$600,000 in grants for 5 SECT businesses

Five businesses in southeastern Connecticut have been granted more than $600,000 in loans to help purchase new equipment, build new facilities and launch new products, the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region announced Thursday.

The quasi-public agency seCTer, in partnership with the state Department of Economic and Community Development's Small Business Express program, said the most recent round of state funding will go to Marty Gilman Inc. of Bozrah, a manufacturer of sports gear; Seconn Fabrications Inc. of Waterford, which does custom manufacturing, powder coating and screen printing; StoryForge Labs LLC of New London, a conceptual design, animation and visual effects studio; AgroSci Inc. of Colchester, which sells and distributes irrigation systems, and Mystic Cheese Company LLC of Franklin, which will build a cheese-making facility at the Hill Top Flex Park.

"We look forward to seeing these companies grow and flourish in southeastern Connecticut for many years," said Ann Chambers, seCTer's loan program director, in a statement.

SeCTer did not initially reveal the exact amounts each business received, saying its clients have to approve the release of such information. The agency was able to release the amount loaned to StoryForge Labs, $60,000, because it was all state funding.

Marty Gilman Inc., which does business as Gilman Gear, will use its funding to add three new sales employees and to design a new catalog, as well as for enhancing its website design. The company, with 42 full-time employees, has clients ranging from the National Football League and the National Basketball Association to the NCAA as well as about 7,000 youth and high school programs.

Seconn will use its funding to purchase new machining equipment and to add at least two more employees. The company, with 74 employees, currently outsources its machining work.

StoryForge Labs, which does business as Killer Minnow, will purchase new equipment and software, expand its office space and add more staff. The company, which is developing mobile video games, currently employs seven people at its offices in the historic Dewart building.

AgroSci plans to use loans to move its operations from Stephenville, N.Y., intending to hire 10 new employees in the next two years. Its key product, called My Lazy Gardener, is geared toward hobby growers and gardeners and promises to conserve water. A cat litter box filtration system using the same technology is also in the works.

Mystic Cheese, founded by Salem native Brian Civitello, will open a new state-of-the art operation using hormone-free milk from Connecticut dairy farms. Civitello learned the art of cheese making in Italy after earning a degree in resource economics from the University of Connecticut.

For information on seCTer loan programs, call Deborah Donovan, director of economic development and marketing for the New London-based agency, at (860) 437-4659, ext. 202.



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