As a new state program begins providing assistance to small businesses all across

Connecticut, state Sen. Anthony Musto, D-22nd District, and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch toured the manufacturing facilities of SolarChange, LLC on Lenox Avenue in Bridgeport, the most recent company to benefit from the initiative.

“SolarChange will soon be expanding their business and hiring new employees right here in Bridgeport,” Musto said. “Our focus in the legislature for the last year has been on job creation and business expansion, and the way that companies like this are benefiting shows that we are headed in the right direction. Connecticut can be a leader in the field of renewable energy by creating more these green, local jobs over the coming years.”

Late last week, SolarChange was awarded a $100,000 matching grant and a loan of $250,000 by the Department of Economic & Community Development. The loan was made through the state’s Small Business Express Program, first established in a bipartisan jobs bill supported by Musto in October of last year.

This state assistance will help SolarChange to expand its operations, move into a larger building, and create 31 new full-time jobs. Moreover, as SolarChange distributes its products through four other companies in Connecticut, the funding is anticipated to have a multiplier effect, generating additional installation and servicing jobs at other firms.

“Applying for the Small Business Express Program was a very streamlined process geared toward companies like ours. The whole team at DECD was very helpful. Now we can get on to hiring as many as 20 new people over the next 60 days, and even more in the years ahead,” said Scott Hartzell, CEO of SolarChange.

For commercial buildings with an existing roof, the company’s Hybrid Can product provides 120 degree water for radiant heating and other uses, in addition to solar-generated electricity.

For residential buildings, SolarChange manufactures a prefabricated structural solar roof panel capable of covering part or all of a roof. It is available in both solar thermal and hybrid solar thermal/electric options.

In the near future, the company hopes to begin installing new residential roofs consisting entirely of these hybrid solar panels, at a cost comparable to a regular, non-powered roof.