April 11, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 1:48 pm

CT commits $1.5M more to EXP qualifiers

Hartford investment manager Smith Whiley & Co. is among five more Connecticut firms that have qualified for state grants to promote their growth and job creation.

Created last October, the state's Small Business Express Program (EXP) is targeting $100 million to enable enterprises with fewer than 50 workers to develop products and services that will penetrate new markets.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development oversees the EXP program.

The five newcomers are:

  • Smith Whiley is introducing its fourth sponsored investment fund. It will retain 12 jobs and create three more. To fund the marketing cycle for this new product launch, it is receiving a $100,000 matching grant and a $250,000 Job Creation Incentive Loan.
  • Back East Brewing Co. LLC, Bloomfield, was incorporated in July 2009 to produce and sell handcrafted ales and lagers. The company's ownership is investing $220,000 and receiving a matching grant of $81,672 to fund new production equipment that will help the brewer meet growing demand. The project will create one job, and retain two others.
  • Salamander Designs LTD, Bloomfield, designs and manufactures home organization and entertainment center furnishings, historically sold through large electronics retailers. The company will invest $323,000 and receive a $100,000 matching grant, plus a $250,000 Job Creation Incentive Loan. These funds will support Salamander's recent market diversification effort to include smaller retailers, improve its direct-to-consumer online distribution effort, expand their product line, and hire and train an additional six people, bringing their full-time staff to 25.
  • Circle Commerce, Avon, originally formed in 1980, designs, sells, and maintains computerized business application systems to allow businesses to accommodate the online and telephone sales markets. The company is combining $256,000 of its own money with a Job Creation Incentive Loan of $250,000 and a matching grant of $100,000 to engage a firm to design and implement its new marketing effort and will bring on eleven new hires over the next twenty-four months.
  • Kelly Container Inc. of Suffield specializes in portable, reliable, and professional refrigeration and freezer containers. It will use a $100,000 matching grant to purchase machinery and equipment, expand its product line and enhance its marketing. The project will retain ten jobs and create one additional position.

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