Changing How We Work with Businesses to Better Meet their Needs


East Hartford, CT; November 23, 2020 — For the past 40 years, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) has helped the state’s small businesses start, manage and grow, with business advising offered at no-cost to the business.

This year, not surprisingly, the number of businesses looking for assistance has doubled and the CTSBDC has been able to expand its resources in order to meet that need, with 20 business advisors working with over 4,700 clients.  During the spring, with stay-at-home mandates for all but essential businesses, CTSBDC advisors adapted to meet the immediate needs of business any way they could, operating virtually by maintaining contact with clients through video and telephone conferencing.

The Year of the Pivot

Not unlike the businesses the CTSBDC serves, in 2020 the CTSBDC is making its own pivot.

Understanding the unique challenges each of our clients face, we have redesigned how we assist Connecticut’s small businesses and those considering launching a new venture. Clients will now have access to no-cost advising provided by a team of seasoned professionals skilled in business development across the small business life cycle.

After a strategic review of client requests, the CTSBDC advising teams will now focus on four key areas – assisting clients in the pre-venture stage, with capital access, with customer acquisition, and with operations and processes.

“We were a bit surprised at the positive reception to the use of virtual meeting technology for one-to-one advising,” said State Director Joe Ercolano.  “With this adoption, we were effectively able to respond to three to four times the number of requests for assistance received during the spring months.  And people have definitely responded well to our webinar offerings and virtual workshops.”

“Most importantly,” notes CTSBDC Associate Director Matt Pugliese, “we had more confidence technology would make it possible to link clients with specific advising expertise or experience, even if the advisor was on the opposite side of the state.”

Business Advising Focus Areas

The CTSBDC will continue to serve all Connecticut’s 169 towns while leveraging the professional expertise of the business advising staff, ultimately providing the best support to the business client.  Each of the four focus areas is guided by a team lead. The four collectively have advised over 4,000 clients and assisted with capital raises of more than $70m, while building off a knowledge base acquired over an average of 25 years.

The Capital Access Team assists clients with financial analysis, debt and equity funding, SBA lending, non-profit and microlending, and loan document preparation.  The Capital Access Team is led by Joe Williams, with deep expertise in financing for business starts and business growth.  Joe, an entrepreneur who launched three successful businesses earlier in his career, brings demonstrated success in helping owners finance business starts and expansions.  The full team offers decades of experience in commercial lending and financing from traditional and nontraditional sources.




The Customer Acquisition Team provides counseling in the areas that support the expansion of a client’s customer base and revenue stream including market research, marketing strategies, digital marketing, SEO, ecommerce, international trade/export, government contracting, and more.  Leading the Customer Acquisition Team is Denise Whitford, with experience in commercial lending, sales and service management, and providing competitive insight to clients in both domestic and international markets.  Denise herself has owned and led two businesses and is also a Certified Global Business Professional with accreditation from NASBITE (National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators). The team members bring a mix of market research, sales and marketing, and business development experience to their advising.



The Operations Team offers advising on topics including business planning, strategic planning, growth strategy, business model development, intellectual property, operations and process, cybersecurity and more.  Team Lead Christine Sullivan has two decades of experience in investment banking and is skilled in assessing operational strength, market opportunity, and business positioning.  Christine’s expertise in operational efficiency complements the team’s knowledge of operational management honed in a variety of industries.




The Pre-Venture Team works with entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, whether it be for the first time, or creation of an additional business entity.  For the CTSBDC,  a business start involves more than registering with the Secretary of State’s office.  Versed in local and state registration and licensing concerns, the team will help navigate financial, legal, and organizational requirements for formation, highlight tax obligations on the Federal and State levels, and beginning operational issues.  Mary Kay Della Camera heads the Pre-Venture Team, contributing a decade’s worth of business formation knowledge to a team that includes serial entrepreneurs and career management leaders.




We encourage small businesses to take advantage of this no-cost business advising being offered by the CTSBDC by contacting us at, or at 877-723-2828. More information about advising and training programs is also available at


About the Connecticut Small Business Development Center
The Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) provides business advising to small business owners and entrepreneurs to start, grow, and thrive in Connecticut.  Our professional staff of 20 Business Advisors offers no-cost confidential and expert business advising to small business owners and entrepreneurs to overcome challenges and reach their goals.  From the entrepreneur looking for business plan assistance to the experienced business owner looking to pivot their business, CTSBDC Business Advisors have the expertise you can count on.

Our business advising includes not only an assessment of your business plan but access to resources to grow your business:  Tools such as geographic-based demographics, consumer spending data, market research, financial projections, industry reports, and more. Through our connections with various traditional and non-traditional lending institutions, we help business owners get access to capital when it is needed most.

The CTSBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and the University of Connecticut.