One Community: A Conversation with Guilford Economic Development Manager Brian McGlone

There is an overwhelming amount of information about our current situation, much of which is tailored to a state or national level. One Community Conversations are focused on what is happening at a local level, so we can all stay informed and do our part to help our community. 

Our first conversation was with Brian McGlone, Economic Development Manager for the Town of Guilford. He shares how Guilford is responding to what is happening in Connecticut, including information from a conference call with Ned Lamont, and what local businesses are doing to help in this time of need. 

Read on for parts of our discussion, or listen to the full conversation here

We know you did have a conversation with our governor here in Connecticut. Is there any positive news that you could share with us?

Brian McGlone: The SBA, working in conjunction with the Federal government, has come up with loan programs that can be up to $2 million in their payable over a 30-year payback, and they’re running between 2.75%-3.75% interest rate. So, I mean, there are going to be some monies available in that fashion. I’m frankly talking to some of the businesses. That’s like good news and bad news because it’s, it’s another loan. It’s going to kind of overburden them a little bit with loans.

Now during a conference call yesterday with the governor, and through the DCD, David Lehman, they’re working on a more of a short term loan for businesses. They’re trying to come up with a short term loan, that would be somewhere between zero to 1% interest that would be payable probably over a 12 or 18 month period. So it’s more focused on some immediate needs. Shorter-term needs to try to just keep people going in this very difficult period, hopefully things will change over that next 90 days. And so they’re trying to get it as low as they can, and make it feasible and reasonable to pay back again, over a shorter period of time. But hopefully, one that businesses will be in a position to afford and handle. Now, the full details of that haven’t been released yet. They expect to release early next week. So that’s one avenue, you know, with the state and trying to come up with funds to help our local businesses.

What can we do to help support our small, local businesses during this time as residents?

Brian McGlone:  Well, we as the town have been publishing, for example, the restaurants that are remaining open for either curbside pickup or delivery. So we’re encouraging people to take out as often as they can to try to bring some cash into the restaurants. I just saw a notice this morning, and I don’t know all the details, but the state is going to allow liquor to be sold at with part of the meal. 

And then, if you can, you know, we’re encouraging people to buy gift cards, gift certificates that could be used at a later date, whether you use it personally or maybe share it with somebody as a gift. 

Beyond the restaurants, we’re putting a similar kind of directory together of what retailers are remaining open at this time and found in a similar fashion many other retailers are trying to put information up online of what their goods might look like. Many of them are offering shipping. So if you pay for something online, they will ship it to you. So we’re encouraging people to identify those retailers and, and whether it’s the hard goods now or gift cards later, that would certainly be beneficial.

Additional Ways to Donate 

Brian McGlone: This morning, the Women & Family Life Center in collaboration with the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Foundation, have an assistance program available. If you go online to the Women and Family Life Center, you can get an application. They are talking about providing $500 a person for a grant. And I think there are some extenuating circumstances that that amount may vary. As I understand, a donor came forward and put up $10,000 of seed money to get that started. 

They are asking if people want to donate money to that fund. That money is intended to go out to help people that have businesses or live in Guilford, you know that under this short term pressure, they need some monies. So it’s just another piece that’s trying to address the issues.

Bio-Med Devices and 4catalyzer are both helping from a medical standpoint here in Guilford. 

Brian McGlone: I didn’t even fully understand the breadth of the Bio-Med line. Bio-Med makes ventilators. So they are ramping up picking it up to try to meet the demands. They’re working long hours and sourcing raw materials to be able to do this. I mean, here’s another local Guilford business. It’s contributing to the solution. That is really exciting.

Kids are out of school. What’s the plan moving forward in Guilford with education?

Nicole White: With my kids, I know that online schooling begins on Monday. My husband actually is at the high school right now. They’re calling the teachers in and sort of small groups to get all the teachers ready and prepared to start distance learning

My older kids being in the middle school have Chromebooks but my elementary school student doesn’t. But if you apply online, you can actually get access to a Chromebook. So we’re able to rent a Chromebook from the town for the remainder of this too. So there are certainly lots of resources. 

I love the fact though, that the towns have decided to put this initiative together sooner because originally, we weren’t going to be starting online schooling until next week. So the fact that they moved it up a whole week is a great move. 

You’ve got to really be proud about our local communities. The way everybody in every industry, small business, restaurants, education, certainly healthcare workers with what they’re going through, have risen to the challenge and innovated how they do things. – Byron Lazine

Brian McGlone: Everybody is facing this really as a, as a first-time kind of a thing. It’s more extensive, the scope is bigger. I think people are being as patient as they can, as understanding, contributing ideas and solutions. 

I see it with the town. Banding together, trying to help one another, encouraging people that we will get through this. We’re still on unchartered waters and some ideas might come up that might not be as successful. So again, if people just remain patient, remain positive and optimistic, and practice kindness, we’ll all get through this.

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