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Lieutenant governor visits Waterford woman-owned business awarded grant

Waterford — Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and First Selectman Rob Brule on Wednesday visited local business owner Ivy Mellow, a recent recipient of an estimated $9,000 grant from the Women's Business Development Center's Equity Match Grant Program.

Mellow, who owns Ivy's Simply Homemade, a retail storefront offering prepared foods and a provider of catering services, is one of 44 women to receive a grant as part of the WBDC's second round of grants totaling nearly $400,000.

The Equity Match Grant Program was created in August 2020 to provide financial support to women entrepreneurs in the state disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Ivy's Simply Homemade is an incredible local-owned business that has had to work extra hard during the pandemic," said Bysiewicz, who purchased one of Mellow's homemade jams during her visit. "We look forward to seeing Ivy's business continue to thrive."

Bysiewicz said the program strived to focus on helping women after learning that out of the more than 60,000 Connecticut businesses that received federal Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic, 78% were owned by males and 84% were owned by whites. Bysiewicz and WBDC founder and CEO Fran Pastore have raised nearly $700,000 in private funds, mostly from banks. The state Department of Economic and Community Development matched the amount, bringing the total amount of support to more than $1 million.

Bysiewicz said she's grateful to all of the financial institutions that invested in these women and businesses, including, in the region, Chelsea Groton Bank, Dime Bank, Essex Bank and Guilford Savings Bank.

Applicants to the grant program have to undergo an extensive application process. Some of the criteria are a business plan, two years of financial statements, three years of financial projections, evidence of business ownership, proof of good standing in the state, a use-of-funds statement and what the grant would go towards. Applicants are also required to match 25% of the grant.

Brule was happy for Mellow and said he appreciates the lieutenant governor and DECD Commissioner David Lehman for approving the grant, claiming it has made "a positive impact during the most challenging of times."

Mellow has been the owner of Ivy's Simply Homemade for 10 years. She said the grant has allowed her to buy machinery that she has been wanting for over five years, decrease labor and make the flow of business smoother.

"The huge relief that it brought was amazing," said Mellow of the grant.

Mellow experienced some hardships during the pandemic when 21 of the 25 events she planned to cater in 2020 cancelled or postponed. With events already scheduled for 2021, the events rescheduled from last year have made Mellow and her staff extra busy, but she remains grateful for the grant, which will sustain her business.

"Ivy and her staff worked each and every day through the pandemic to provide meals to first responders, dispatchers, health care workers and always put her neighbors first ... no one deserves it more," Brule said.

j.vazquez@theday.com

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