WATERBURY, Conn. — The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) officially opened the doors to its brand-new office in downtown Waterbury on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring many prominent government officials and community leaders, including Senator Joan Hartley, Representative Ron Napoli, Representative Geraldo Reyes, Board of Aldermen President Paul Pernerewski, Alderwoman Kelly Zimmerman, SBA Deputy District Director Moraima Gutierrez, and others.
WBDC’s 5,300-square-foot office is on the second floor of the former Webster Bank executive offices at 132 Grand Street, originally built in 1911. The newly renovated space will allow WBDC staff to directly connect with current and aspiring entrepreneurs in and around Waterbury.
“I am pleased to welcome the Women’s Business Development Council to our beautiful downtown,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary. “Their strategic location, along with their wealth of experience and dedication to our city, will undoubtedly contribute to our economic growth and the betterment of our community.”
“Having a physical presence in Waterbury is something we have wanted for many years. While we have been working with Waterbury business owners since WBDC was established more than 25 years ago, being right here in downtown Waterbury will allow us to truly engage with the community and have an even greater economic impact,” said WBDC Founder and CEO Fran Pastore. “We are incredibly grateful to DECD, the City, and our partners at Webster Bank for providing the support that helped make WBDC’s Waterbury office a reality.”
As a founding investor of WBDC’s Waterbury office, Webster Bank has committed to providing $300,000 over five years to help WBDC establish a new office to support women-owned businesses in Waterbury. Webster’s contribution, along with funding from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the City of Waterbury, will support the establishment of the WBDC Waterbury office as well as:
Expansion of WBDC’s highly successful technical assistance, business advising, workshops, and courses to Waterbury-based small businesses at all stages of development;
Expansion of WBDC’s small business grant programs specifically to Waterbury-based small businesses; and
Delivery of WBDC’s industry-specific technical assistance and microgrant programs to childcare providers in Waterbury.
“Webster and WBDC have a long relationship, and as the founding investor of the Equity Match Grant Program, we are thrilled to see how many women and minority-owned businesses have been able to expand and flourish in such a short time,” said Marissa Weidner, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at Webster. “We are proud to support WBDC’s expansion in Waterbury and look forward to even more women business owners obtaining the skills needed to help broaden the economic vitality of our communities.”
“Connecting businesses to the financial and technical resources they need to grow and innovate is central to strengthening our state’s economy,” said Alexandra Daum, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “Under the leadership of Governor Lamont, the state has made major investments in organizations like WBDC to help them expand and reach larger numbers of small businesses that may need their services.”
Also speaking at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting were two WBDC Waterbury clients who have received business support as well as small business grants from WBDC. Rayann Lezama, owner of Ray’s of Sunshine Childcare Center in Waterbury, has received grants through WBDC’s Childcare Opportunity Fund, and Lezama has participated in nearly 40 hours of WBDC classes and business advising sessions, which have helped her grow her business. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is certainly true,” said Lezama. “But that’s also true of running a business. WBDC is my village.WBDC has been my biggest supporter. I feel like I can count on them when I need any type of resources.”
Dawn Tedesco, owner of Career Compliance Solutions, recently received a WBDC/Waterbury Small Business Grant to help her grow her consulting business. This grant is really going to help with my marketing and taking my business to the next level,” said Tedesco. “The WBDC team was incredibly helpful in going through the application process.”
Waterbury/WBDC Small Business Grant Program
The opening of the new Waterbury office comes less than four months after the announcement of the Waterbury/WBDC Small Business Grant Program — an innovative grant program aimed to give a boost to established small businesses based in Waterbury. The program makes grants of up to $10,000 available to eligible businesses in the city for clearly defined projects that will have a measurable impact on the business, its growth, and profitability.
For information on the Waterbury/WBDC Small Business Grant Program, including eligibility, application requirements, and resources to aid in the application process, visit https://ctwbdc.org/waterbury.
About the Women’s Business Development Council
The Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC) mission is to support economic prosperity for women and strengthen communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services that create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut. WBDC educates, motivates and empowers women to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. Since 1997, WBDC has educated and trained nearly 18,000 clients in all of Connecticut’s 169 towns—helping women to launch, sustain, and scale almost 13,500 businesses, create and maintain more than 29,600 jobs in Connecticut, and access more than $52.5 million in capital. Visit ctwbdc.org for more information.
Webster Bank (“Webster”) is a leading commercial bank in the Northeast that provides a wide range of digital and traditional financial solutions across three differentiated lines of business: Commercial Banking, Consumer Banking and its HSA Bank division, one of the country’s largest providers of employee benefits solutions. Headquartered in Stamford, CT, Webster is a values-driven organization with more than $70 billion in assets. Its core footprint spans the northeastern U.S. from New York to Massachusetts, with certain businesses operating in extended geographies. Webster Bank is a member of the FDIC and an equal housing lender. For more information about Webster, including past press releases and the latest annual report, visit the Webster website at www.websterbank.com.
Attached Photo: Waterbury Alderwoman Kelly Zimmerman; Dawn Tedesco, Owner of Career Compliance Solutions and WBDC Waterbury Small Business Grant recipient; Rayann Lezama, Owner of Ray’s of Sunshine Childcare and WBDC Child Care Business Opportunity Fund grant recipient; Waterbury Bd. of Aldermen President Paul Pernerewski; Sen. Joan Hartley; Rep. Geraldo Reyes; Rep. Ron Napoli; WBDC CEO Fran Pastore; Marissa Weidner, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, Webster Bank; Margaret Gustafson, Quality Initiative Specialist, CT Office of Early Childhood (OEC); Lynn Ward, President & CEO, Waterbury Regional Chamber; Moraima Guitierrez, Deputy District Director, SBA