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CBIA BizCast

Author: Connecticut Business & Industry Association

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A podcast for the business-minded in Connecticut. Interviews consist of business and community leaders that delve into the highs and lows of doing business in Connecticut.

BizCast provides new content every week, introduces members of CBIA staff, and tells stories about how businesses are innovating and growing in Connecticut!
99 Episodes
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CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Rob Lia, President of Wheelhouse Group in Stamford. Brent Montgomery, known for creating a reality TV empire, is the founder of Wheelhouse. He promoted his long-time counsel, Lia, to president in 2019. Wheelhouse Group has offices in New York and Los Angeles as well. Lia said the tax credits offered by the state to media companies was the incentive they needed to bring the business to Stamford rather than Queens, New York. “Fairfield County is filled with incredible talent and most of it goes into New York City everyday,” Lia said. Lia oversees The Village, which is the building that includes Wheelhouse’s Stamford production offices, Cisco Brewery and The Wheel restaurant. He said the goal was to create a collaborative space where creative minds can meet. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Tom Romagnoli, Downes Construction’s assistant director of operations, about the company's partnership with Lynn Ricci and Jeff Lawton from New Britain’s Hospital of Special Care. Ricci, the hospital’s CEO, approached Downes in 2019 to build and renovate a partial hospital unit for kids with autism spectrum disorder. The unite provides an intensive day program for those not able to participate in other treatments or school programs safely. It’s unique and one of 11 in the country. Romagnoli said they ordered their supplies before the pandemic hit and were able to finish the project on time despite supply chain challenges COVID-19 caused. They implemented daily health checks for onsite workers and thorough contact tracing. “As people were driving to work there were billboards and things telling people to stay home,” said Romagnoli. “First and foremost we needed to make sure our workforce felt safe and comfortable coming to work.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor and economic development director Kristen Gorski about their efforts to keep the town’s business districts thriving during the pandemic. Cantor said her team was very proactive during the height of the pandemic, including purchasing and installing jersey barriers to create outdoor spaces for restaurants. “We were one of the first communities in the state to expand outdoor dining and that was a real quick expansion,” Cantor said. Gorski said communication between the town’s 4,000-plus employers was key to letting businesses know what state and federal relief dollars were available. “What we did was very fast and furious to try and update our businesses through those email communications in live time,” Gorski said. “As many people will remember, it was information coming out quickly and it was important to get it to the businesses so they had the best chance to be successful as possible.” Hear more from Cantor and other lawmakers at CBIA’s The Connecticut Economy conference September 30. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
Funding Alzheimer’s Treatment by Connecticut Business & Industry Association
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Bob Hersh, Grant Thornton’s national managing principal of the manufacturing industry and practice leader for the Metro New York and New England areas. Grant Thornton is hosting an Aug. 26 conference on how the industry is adapting to working through and beyond the pandemic. Hersh says COVID-19 disruptions hit manufacturers extremely hard, with most unable to shut down as they were making essential products. He noted that the pandemic created significant supply chain issues, although advances in e-manufacturing could resolve those. “I have a couple clients that are dealing with 3D printing in the industrial space, CNC, a lot of things where the design is driven electronically,” he said. Hersh added that digital technologies provide companies with a blueprint to generate inventory and relieve supply chain bottlenecks. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Patti Compton, Head of Statistical Programming and Analysis at Pfizer’s Groton location, the company’s largest research hub and home to over 4,000 scientists. “Every Pfizer product has been developed in some part by folks in Groton,” said Compton. When COVID-19 took hold last year, the Groton location pivoted to vaccine development. Employees helped analyze the results of clinical trials and antibody treatments. Compton’s key role was to help analyze the results of 40,000 trials, determining the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. “It was clear, made by our own CEO, that this was the prime focus,” said Compton. “Never have I seen an organization pivot that way and really turn its attention to one compound simultaneously, really pulling out the stops to find out if it was a safe compound, would it work?” Compton said a large portion of the Groton community was willing to participate in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with Barnum Museum executive director Kathleen Maher about keeping PT Barnum’s legacy alive through three natural disasters and a pandemic. In 2010, the museum in Bridgeport was hit by a tornado. Some of the 20,000 objects were soaked when the tornado tore through. The museum was then hit by hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy before it could fully be repaired. “There has not been a moment of rest trying to figure out a EF 1 tornado impact on nationally significant buildings, with collections,” said Maher. Barnum had originally purchased the building the museum is in to turn into his own museum. Since 2012, a gallery has been open to show the artifacts but the goal is to raise enough money to reopen a brand new museum. That has been further postponed by the pandemic. P.T. Barnum was born in 1810 in Bethel, Connecticut and spent most of his life in Bridgeport. Not only did Barnum become the famous name behind the American circus, Maher spent time in the state general assembly and had a goal to make Bridgeport a manufacturing hub. Maher said Barnum faced five major fires in his career as well as a large financial setback. She said they have learned from his examples of how to persevere through the toughest times. “The Barnum Museum has become not just a Connecticut or national, but a global model for disaster resilience and recovery,” said Maher. “I have spoken all over the world about it.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA BizCast host Ali Warshavsky speaks with New Canaan Chamber of Commerce executive director Laura Budd and town administrative officer Tucker Murphy about the creative ways they have encouraged the community to visit town businesses during the pandemic. Murphy said some stores permanently closed their doors this past year. Instead of empty storefronts downtown, they collaborated with local artists to fill the windows with pictures of New Canaan landmarks. “It gave us a way to enhance the look, the overall look, we are loving doing it,” Murphy said. “We are trying to put them in a few more. The good news is, the number of empty storefronts is going down.” Budd said no matter what the event was in town last year, and whether it was held virtually or in person, the goal was to drive new and old residents to the downtown area. “We had a very abbreviated sidewalk sale in August last year when it's typically in July,” she said. “We spread it over two days. We had a quarter of the vendors we usually have but focused on the New Canaan brick and mortar stores and allowed them to do that.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Ali Warshavsky.
CBIA’s BizCast talks with Roberta Wachtelhausen and Andi Campbell of WellSpark Health, the Farmington-based employee well-being solutions company. “We’re really trying to help employers develop a culture of well-being, not just offer a suite of benefits,” said Wachtelhausen, who is president of the ConnectiCare affiliate. “We’re trying to go beyond that by helping that employer bring forth a culture that is focused on the well being of the entire workforce.” Campbell, the chief growth officer, said this type of culture mitigates future healthcare costs, improves productivity and engagement, and reduces absenteeism. “The best and most successful programming when it’s related to wellness or well-being happens outside of HR,” she said. “There’s a set of workplace behaviors that are foundational components to building well-being in a company’s DNA.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik (katie.krajcik@cbia.com).
CBIA’s BizCast talks with David Gottlieb, co-owner with his brother Joseph Gottlieb of Goosetown Communications, the integrated solutions company they founded in 1990. The Gottlieb brothers are also first responders, and bring that experience to their work with a range of clients throughout the Northeast. “Connecticut has been an absolute great place to do business,” Gottlieb says. “We want customers that are going to grow with us and I have to say, we definitely found that here in Connecticut.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik.
CBIA’s BizCast talks with Cela Sinay-Bernie, managing partner of Connecticut-based Citrine Power, a developer and investor in renewable power plants. While the woman-owned company operates mostly in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts, they also have a presence in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. “Collectively our team has developed, financed, and built more than 60 projects and $200 million of financing,” Sinay-Bernie tells CBIA Energy Connections director of operations Tom Guerra. Sinay-Bernie also touches on the impact of legislation from the latest state legislative session and the growth hurdles that companies like hers face in Connecticut.
CBIA’s BizCast talks with Rhonda Tobin, the first female managing partner at Connecticut-based law firm Robinson+Cole. The conversation centers around the firm’s 175th anniversary celebrations, which included discussions of their core values of collaboration, civility, and inclusion, and addressing equity issues. Tobin, who has spent her entire 30-year career at Robinson+Cole, said that the support of the professional staff and team of lawyers surrounding her contributed to the seamless transition. “Collaboration is the bedrock of what we do,” she said. “It’s how we’ve always worked across geographies and what has gotten us through these last 15 months especially.” Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik.
Wren built a special buffer that enables them to collect the saliva while protecting the COVID RNA sample from any degradation. This is especially important for detecting low viral loads. The lab’s work with the federal Food and Drug Administration indicates the test is highly accurate and will likely detect all known mutants including the Delta or Indian mutation, Kidd said. The test has a 24-hour turnaround time and Wren Labs has the capacity to run thousands of tests each day. CBIA members can get a special discount on rapid COVID testing from Wren Laboratories here: https://wrencovidtesting.com/cbia
Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick joins CBIA's BizCast to share how the town came together to navigate the pandemic and the innovative strategies her team is employing to support businesses and the recovery. "We're very fortunate that our community has worked well together for decades," Hoydick says. "We knew our strengths from prior tragedies and we deployed those during the pandemic." The first 90 days were the most difficult for the town, but they were able to keep manufacturing and construction operating, two critical elements of the local economy. "For us, it was about getting the correct information out to the public," Hoydick said. "You would hear so many things on so many different mediums--and you didn't know what to believe. "We wanted to help calm people down, even if it was a little bit." Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik (katie.krajcik@cbia.com).
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima talks with CliftonLarsonAllen managing principal Joe Kask and the accounting firm's chief practice officer for the Northeast, James Watson, about key takeaways from the acquisition of blumshapiro. Kask, the former CEO of blumshapiro, says many opportunities were created because of the January, 2021 merger—opportunities not just for employees, but for clients and communities. “This firm accepted all of our employees as one of their own,” said Kask. “We share the same values, the same culture and the same commitments.” Nationally, CLA has provided $1.1 million to community organizations focusing on education, employment, and entrepreneurship since the acquisition. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik (katie.krajcik@cbia.com).
McCarter & English LLP's Moy Ogilvie, Bigelow Tea's Cindi Bigelow, Otis Elevator Co's Robin Fiala, InCord's Meredith Shay, and Medtronic's Valerie Finarty shared stories and insights on leadership and navigating the pandemic at CBIA's May 26 When Women Lead conference. Patience, empathy, and listening skills are what helped these Connecticut business leaders guide their companies through the coronavirus pandemic. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik (katie.krajcik@cbia.com).
CBIA’s BizCast talks with Leander Dolphin, Kent Nevins, and James Ruggeri, the new three partner leadership team at Hartford-based law firm Shipman & Goodwin. The co-managing partners share the background behind the decision to expand the leadership model following the retirement of former managing partner Alan Lieberman at the end of 2020. “The thing that was important to the partnership was to have diversity, in every different way," says Dolphin. "Geographic diversity, diversity of ideas, and even diversity in the practice groups from which the three of us come.” The attorneys also share the ways they balance their practice responsibilities with their leadership roles, noting the importance of open lines of communication and their supporting staff. Dolphin, who is one of the featured speakers at CBIA's May 26 When Women Lead conference, also discusses the importance of diversity, saying “we understand we need to reflect our community." Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik.
Cigna's Wendy Sherry

Cigna's Wendy Sherry

2021-05-1519:01

Cigna's Wendy Sherry by Connecticut Business & Industry Association
To kick off Small Business Appreciation Week, CBIA’s BizCast chats with Stefan Bothe, co-founder and CEO of Flexi International Software in Shelton. “Every time I got fired it led to something better,” says the German-born Bothe, who helped found Flexi International 30 years ago, leveraging innovation to successfully navigate market changes, and over the last year, the pandemic. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik.
CBIA’s BizCast talks with Matthew Hummel, KeyBank’s Commercial Banking Team Leader for Connecticut and Massachusetts. Hummel discusses the company’s new 2021 hires, their title as a national Paycheck Protection Program lender, and the expansion of its National Community Benefits Plan—which includes $530 million in community investment commitments for Connecticut and Massachusetts. KeyBank will be the presenting sponsor at CBIA’s 2021 Connecticut Economic Update on April 30 (see cbia.com/events for more information). Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Katie Krajcik. cbia.com CBIA Twitter: twitter.com/CBIANews CBIA Facebook: www.facebook.com/CBIAfb CBIA LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/cbia
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