Nine area businesses to expand with help from $145K in seCTerRise grants

Nine regional small businesses will be able to expand and remain resilient in the face of unforeseen challenges with the help of $145,512 in grants provided by the Southeastern CT Enterprise Region (seCTer) through its seCTerRise program.
This most recent distribution brings the total distribution in 2023 to $222,802 to 13 businesses across the region.
Comfort Catering is a popular, long-time, Norwich-based business that finds itself turning away business on a weekly basis because of insufficient storage and lack of equipment. This minority, woman-owned catering business will use their seCTerRise grant to purchase an additional freezer and refrigerator, two warmers, and holding transport boxes, proving the ability to prepare, hold, and transport more food – which means more catering jobs. It will also reduce expenses for kitchen equipment rentals and storage. The estimated 40 percent increase in business combined with a decrease in expenses will be a great help to the bottom line.
Toesty Sheets owner Michele Wytas created a bit of a sensation when her entrepreneurial spirit created her patented “no-tuck” top sheet that’s a combination fitted sheet at the foot of the bed and regular sheet at the head. Wytas’ invention became an instant online hit, enabling her to expand her line to additional colors and more sizes after selling out of her first run of 1,000 white sheets in king, queen, full and twin. Wytas will use her seCTerRise grant to expand into niche markets such as RV’s, split kings, XL twins for dorms, and California kings, growing her footprint in the market. Toesty Sheets are 100% organic cotton Percale and come packaged in a custom reusable shopping tote.
Whisk Together Catering has become so successful that owner Chef Roman needs her own space to create her treats for private parties, corporate events, celebrations, community events, cooking demonstrations, and more. Without her own facility, she works in various licensed commercial kitchens and applies for health department permitting for each event. Her seCTerRise funding will help finance and equip her own space with all the commercial-grade equipment needed, from utensils, food processors, and shelving, to freezers, prep tables, dining furniture and more. Norwich Community Development Corporation has helped Chef Roman identify a building she can lease, and with seCTerRise funding, she can now take the next step to grow her business as part of the diverse menu of Norwich businesses.
Epicure Brewing, an independent craft brewery and taproom in the heart of the historic Norwich Harbor district, will use its funding for new equipment and marketing. Epicure has found that it needs to transition to canned packaging, which is now crucial for growth and competitiveness in the craft beer market. The seCTerRise funding also will allow Epicure to expand its marketing efforts with digital marketing campaigns intended to implement targeted online marketing strategies to increase brand awareness, engage with target audiences, and drive customer growth.
Flavours of Life, a premier retail gift store in downtown New London featuring quality products from certified fair-trade organizations, will be able to replace its outdated and cumbersome two-step, point- of-sale equipment with new technology. A new system will streamline the process for a better customer experience while providing improved accounting data that in turn will lead to better strategic planning, inventory control, and sales analysis. seCTerRise funding also will allow the purchase of a new scale for weighing items to be shipped.
Fringe Modern & Vintage, a thrift shop for men and women on East Main Street in Clinton, will use its seCTerRise grant to purchase new display equipment and changing room equipment as well as signage and mannequins for the storefront with the intention of attracting more walk-in customers strolling through downtown Clinton. Additional inventory will be purchased to enhance clothing selection and increase sales.
GEM Electrolysis and Esthetics in Old Mystic is growing and needs to replace equipment that is cleaned and sanitized after each use, which leads to additional wear and tear. New equipment is intended to provide a better experience for customers and technicians, which should lead to increased retention of both and more potential for growth.
Jessica Tuesdays, an award-winning, destination restaurant key to downtown Putnam’s revitalization, learned that it will need to purchase a new commercial exhaust and fire suppression hood for its kitchen to meet new federal and state regulations. seCTerRise funding will offset the significant cost of this equipment, which posed a major financial threat to this Putnam icon.
Trade Labels of Stonington produces nutrition labels for bulk bins in supermarkets and independent grocers across the country. There is opportunity to expand into chain accounts more efficiently as well as new markets of small natural food stores and co-ops to drive additional growth. Trade Labels will use its seCTerRise funding for software to allow custom label creation for small accounts, which will expand its customer base, increase profitability, and mitigate risks.
To learn more about this program, visit seCTerRise or contact seCTer at 860-437-4659. seCTerRise is funded by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.