State Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) visited Trumbull’s Firelight Media Group LLC (FMG) recently to speak with business partners Steve Kline and Byron Campbell about how much the business has grown since taking advantage of Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program (EXP).

FMG is a full-service digital media production company, specializing in video production, graphics, multimedia and live event services. Their clientele includes nonprofit agencies, regional businesses and multinational corporations like Unilever. The company has won multiple Emmys for their work with NBC Olympics and various international film festivals.

“Small businesses generate economic growth and innovation within the areas they serve,” said Moore. “The Small Business Express Program has allowed the Firelight Media Group to purchase additional equipment, renovate company space and hire additional employees to deliver high-quality services to clients. Programs like Small Business Express have the capacity to help small businesses grow and succeed in our communities. It is imperative that we continue to support, promote and protect businesses in this state.”

Kline says he received a lot of advice and guidance about how the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Small Business Express Program was an opportunity for FMG to expand and meet customer’s needs.

“The low interest loan afforded us the ability to update our facility to provide better flexibility and more efficiency in our workflow,” said Kline. “This not only aided in the delivery of our services, but also allowed us to easily integrate new employees into the workflow. I see small business programs like this as a necessity for the state’s economy to grow.”

“The loan through DECD really helped us to expand our business,” said Campbell. “We have been able to partner with multiple businesses, which allows for a greater social network. The work we do and the services we provide also allows us to give back to the community. FMG offers internship opportunities for local high school students, giving them hands-on experience and preparing them for the workforce.”

Created in 2011 as part of the bipartisan Jobs Bill, the Small Business Express Program is a state-funded assistance program offered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), providing matching grants and loans under a streamlined applications process to Connecticut-based businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Grant and loan amounts range from $10,000 to $300,000; eligible businesses can use the funds to acquire machinery and equipment, construct facilities or make leasehold improvements, cover moving expenses, or meet working capital needs.

As of this year, 1,414 companies across Connecticut have been provided more than $214 million in financial assistance thanks to EXP. In Moore’s district, 45 companies have participated in the program creating 193 new jobs and retaining 492 more. The program has also allowed FMG to provide subcontracting to a dozen other small businesses in the Town of Trumbull.