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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    The Buzz: Maria Miranda named state’s Small Business Person of Year

    Maria Miranda
    Claudia Bouchard with mentor John Settlage. Photo submitted
    Inonda Christine Peterson (photo courtesy of Mitchell College)
    Kelly Reardon
    Ulysses Hammond, far left, addresses the CMA Shipping conference in Stamford. Photo submitted

    Maria Miranda, chief creative officer of Miranda Creative in Norwich, has been named Connecticut’s 2024 Small Business Person of the Year. With this announcement by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Miranda will go on to compete for the National Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 28-29.

    The Buzz had a chance to catch up with Miranda for a quick sit-down at her offices last week, where she said she entered the contest to celebrate her agency’s 35th anniversary. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, told her she won the award as one of about 345,000 small business in Connecticut.

    “I was more than surprised,” she said. “I’m humbled and a little overwhelmed.”

    Miranda has taken a one-person operation in her parents’ spare room in the Fox Hill section of Norwich and turned it into the largest operation of its kind in southeastern Connecticut, now employing 30, capable of handling traditional media, social media, advertising campaigns and a whole lot more.

    One of her chief recommendations to other small businesses is that they create a photo and video pantry to help define their brand.

    A graduate of the University of Connecticut, one of Miranda’s biggest jobs recently was devising messaging about the state’s paid leave program. “Big effort, big impact” is her mantra and a way to keep both clients and employees motivated.

    “We’re going to continue to grow,” Miranda said. “I could see us being 50 people in a couple of years.”

    National Small Business Week will be celebrated April 28 to May 4.

    People & Places

    Avalonia Land Conservancy has purchased 159 acres in Bozrah and Montville abutting the Nature Conservancy’s 343-acre Milo Light Preserve in Montville, creating a nearly 500-acre greenway wildlife habitat.

    The conservation property was purchased from the Glemboski-Ous family.

    Avalonia Board President Dennis S. Main said the acquisition was the conservancy’s first conservation effort in Bozrah and Montville, both considered underserved communities.

    “Special thanks and recognition go out to the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for the $300,000 Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) grant, to the Town of Bozrah for its matching $100,000. participation that made this acquisition possible and to the Connecticut Land Conservation Council for its Transaction Assistance Grant,” Main said in a release.

    This is the first of an expected dozen acquisitions of conservation tracts throughout New London County by the land conservancy that will occur during 2024.

    Claudia Bouchard has been named the 2024 Outstanding Early Career Professional by the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education Alumni Board.

    Bouchard was formally recognized at the Neag School’s 26th Annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Saturday, March 9. Bouchard graduated with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UConn’s Neag School of Education in 2019.

    As a multilingual science teacher at Norwich Free Academy, where she began teaching in 2021, Bouchard has been integral in assisting native Spanish-speaking students who are new to the country with their transition to English language and cultural codes.

    Bouchard is NFA’s Hispanic Alliance Club adviser at NFA and also volunteers at events such as the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at the Waterford Library and the Southeastern Connecticut Hispanic Alliance, among others.

    Bouchard attended the USFDA Food Science Graduate School Program, for which only 20 candidates were selected nationally. She also participated in the STEMSS Project at Arizona State University, and was the only teacher from Connecticut. This past summer, Bouchard was chosen among 11 other candidates in the U.S. to attend the weeklong Climate Change and Equity Institute in Maine.

    The Milestone Charitable Foundation has announced that New London Attorney Kelly E. Reardon of The Reardon Law Firm, P.C., is one of this year’s honorees, selected for her great compassion and dedication to obtaining justice for her clients.

    The Milestone Charitable Foundation is a national nonprofit organization providing financial assistance to people pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

    Attorney Reardon is one of just five attorneys nationwide to be given the 2024 Compassionate Counsel distinction. Compassionate Counsel recipients are selected by The Milestone Foundation's board for their unwavering commitment to the tenets of the Seventh Amendment and belief in the fundamental right to justice. The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury trial.

    Attorney Reardon, a former television journalist, is the managing partner of The Reardon Law Firm in New London. In addition to her law degree from Boston College, she has degrees from Princeton University, Columbia University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    Safe Futures Chairman of the Board Gregory P. Massad and Chief Executive Officer Katherine Verano have announced that Debra Neuman has joined Safe Futures as the new director of development.

    Neuman’s will be leading the capital campaign for The Center for Safe Futures along with annual giving and legacy giving efforts. Neuman was educated at Wesleyan University in Middletown as well as Sorbonne University in Paris, University of Cambridge, and Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Contact Neuman at dneuman@safefuturesct.org.

    Aquarion Water Company is offering upcycled rain barrels for sale as part of its ongoing water conservation efforts.

    Connecticut customers can purchase a high-quality, 60-gallon upcycled rain barrel designed to fit under a downspout and catch rainwater running off the roof. Customers can collect and store water for use in a garden whenever it rains. The usage of rain barrels can help conserve water and reduce water bills.

    Customers can order barrels online at www.aquarionwater.com/rainbarrels. The cost is $85 and orders must be received by May 1. Locally, barrels may be picked up at the Aquarion location in Stonington, 349 Mistuxet Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Students from eight high schools convened in the Crozier Williams Student Center at Connecticut College on Tuesday, March 12, for the 18th Annual Money Madness seminar presented by Chelsea Groton Bank. Participating schools were Academy of the Holy Family, Bacon Academy, Lyman Memorial High School, Norwich Free Academy, Montville High School, RHAM High School, Waterford High School, and Wheeler High School.

    The half-day seminar opened with keynote speaker, Rachel Lenda, Director of Tourism for the state. The day also included several sessions presented by representatives from Bank On, Better Business Bureau CT, CT Department of Banking, CHESLA, Jane Ryan Insurance, ReMax, UConn Extension, United Way, and Chelsea Groton Bank.

    To learn more about Chelsea Groton Bank’s Chelsea University or to schedule a workshop, visit www.chelseagroton.com/ChelseaUniversity.

    The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce has announced that General Dynamics Electric Boat in collaboration with buildsubmarines.com has become a Chairman’s Circle Member. As a Chairman's Circle member, Electric Boat's contribution goes beyond standard dues, actively supporting GNACC's initiatives to foster community prosperity and growth.

    After adding 5,383 new workers in 2023, EB currently employs 22,390 people, including 15,208 in Groton, New London and Stonington as of March 6. For more information, visit www.gdeb.com or call 860-433-3000.

    Ulysses Hammond, interim executive director of the Connecticut Port Authority, was a featured speaker this month during the three-day CMA Shipping conference sponsored by the Connecticut Maritime Association.

    As a member of the Port Infrastructure, Green Corridors and Offshore Winds panel, Hammond spoke about the transformation of State Pier from an underused state asset into a modern marine terminal able to accommodate heavy-lift cargo the Port of New London could not handle previously. He also spoke about the facility’s role at the forefront of offshore wind energy.

    Hammond’s remarks in Stamford coincided with the announcement on Long Island that the nation’s first completed utility-scale offshore wind farm, South Fork Wind, was operational and delivering power to the grid. The 12 wind turbines of South Fork Wind were staged, assembled and shipped from State Pier over the last several months.

    Components for two additional wind farms, Revolution Wind, serving Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Sunrise Wind, serving Long Island, also will be assembled and shipped from State Pier over the next two years. Revolution Wind components are expected to begin arriving this spring.

    Breezeline, a firm specializing in broadband internet, TV and voice services in the U.S., plans to launch mobile phone service starting in spring 2024.

    Breezeline Mobile, which will be available to Breezeline Internet customers, will include unlimited nationwide talk and text, combined with By-the-Gig or Unlimited data plans. To learn more, visit Breezeline.com/mobileiscoming.

    Several hundred attendees converged on the Mitchell College campus on Feb. 25 during Black History Month for a community celebration of Black heritage and culture called “Letting OUR Voices Be Heard.” Conceived and organized by first-year student-athlete Inonda Christine Peterson, the event featured dozens of Black performers, artists, businesses and organizations.

    Mitchell College President Dr. Tracy Y. Espy said, “Mitchell College was honored to host this phenomenal event for the community and couldn’t be more proud of the amazing leadership of Inonda Peterson. Within just a few months of arriving in New London, she shared her vision throughout the campus and greater New London communities and harnessed the good in everyone.”

    Peterson enlisted help within and outside of the Mitchell College community to facilitate the event, including State Rep. Anthony Nolan, New London Police Chief Brian Wright, community partner Lisa Ann Curtis, Mitchell College professor Kevin Booker, Mitchell College staff and faculty, and groups such as the Connecticut Sun, Hearing Youth Voices and Waterford Rise.

    Vocal performers included Shiloh Baptist Church Choir, Crystal Christie, Jordan Bostick, Krystakia Rose, Maya Sheppard, Elijah James, Johnny Sensei, Ysanne Marshall, Deion Kelly, 1213 and Tim Allen. Spoken word performers included Roodley Merilo, Otis Burton, Mikayla Kennedy, Sian Crespo, Yvie Germain and Bishme Sheppard. Dance performers included Shiloh Youth Praise Dancers, Rose City Step team, James Hodge and Dr. Gizelle Tircuit, Mitchell College’s director of Health and Wellness. Other music included a piano performance by Osaretin Erhunmwunse.

    The Connecticut College Black Student Union was an event sponsor, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Genesis Council also attended and performed at the event. Individuals or organizations wishing to support/sponsor or participate in the event next year should contact advancement@mitchell.edu.

    The North Stonington Historical Society is one of twenty museums in the state of Connecticut to be awarded a Collections Assessment Grant for 2024.

    This grant provides small and mid-sized museums a free assessment of their museum or archive collections. The assessment examines collections on exhibit and in storage, as well as policies and procedures related to collection care and management.

    This program is supported through a partnership grant of the Connecticut Heritage Foundation at the Connecticut State Library and CT Humanities, with funding provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

    North Stonington Historical Society is a non-profit educational organization that has helped North Stonington’s Affordable Housing Committee in its acquisition of an old schoolhouse and helped the town gain recognition and maintain the recently acquired Gallup House.

    Jobs & Opportunities

    The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a Business Resource Fair on Thursday, March 28, from 8:30 - 11 a.m. at Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, 1055 Hartford Turnpike, Waterford. Attendees can learn about free and low-cost resources available to assist with business plans, accessing capital and other opportunities available to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The event is open to everyone and is free to attend.

    For more information visit https://www.sba.gov/event/44973 or contact Sheri Cote, SBA Outreach and Marketing Specialist, at 202-445-6709 or sheri.cote@sba.gov.

    Severn Leadership Group (www.severnleadership.org), a non-profit based in Annapolis, Md., with a chapter in Groton, is looking for women and men who are leaders of character, have led successful teams, are life-long learners, and who want to give back to emerging leaders through mentoring. The group strives to make the world a better place through courageous leaders.

    If interested, contact Groton Program Manager Joe Fougere, joe.fougere@severnleadership.org, for more information.

    The Buzz is a weekly roundup of business news compiled by Business Editor Lee Howard. To get in The Buzz, email businessbriefs@theday.com. To easily access urls cited in print, go to www.theday.com and type “The Buzz” into the search bar.

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