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Supporting the Local Business Community with Michael Grigalonis

Podcast published: July 7, 2023

We explore how the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) is helping local area businesses move ahead in today’s economy. Michael Grigalonis, recently appointed as President of the CCEDC, offers his professional goals for the non-profit organization, as well as sharing insight into his personal goals. He walks us through how the CCEDC operates as a non-profit, focused on local workforce development across a range of industries and sectors.


Intro: Welcome to Start Local, where we talk with business owners, leaders of nonprofits, and other members of our community focused on doing business in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania. Each episode will provide insight into the local business scene and tell you about opportunities to connect with and support businesses and nonprofits in your local area.

Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. And welcome to another episode of Start Local, where we are helping businesses in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the greater Philly area. My name’s Joe Casabona. I am here with my co-host Liam Dempsey. Liam, how are you today?

Liam Dempsey: I’m fantastic, Joe. Thanks for having me here on the show with you yet again.

Joe Casabona: Yes. Glad to be back on the mic with you. And today our guest is Mike Gregolonis. He is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the CCEDC, which Mike, if you will, kindly make sure I say that this is the Chester County Economic Development Center? 

Mike Grigalonis: Council.

Joe Casabona: Council.

Mike Grigalonis: Chester County Economic Development Council. 

Joe Casabona: So close. I was…

Mike Grigalonis: You’re close, Joe. You did a good job. 

Joe Casabona: I was looking at our emails and I could only see the acronym. So close. Mike, thanks for coming back on the show. Right. You are a repeat guest, so we’re excited to have you back here. 

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. It’s been a few years, Mike and a lot has passed. And you came on back when we were first getting started to talk about how the council was helping get money and information and support out to local businesses in the wake of the Covid Pandemic.

And we’re gonna talk about totally different stuff now. So really, I wanna start with a congratulations. You recently got a nice promotion at the council, and, I know you do a lot of great work there and have done a lot. Your title as President is relatively new as of the recording of this. But with that in mind, maybe you’ll share what perhaps your top two priorities for both you and for the council are in your new role.

Mike Grigalonis: Sure. Yeah. I’d be happy to. And first of all, thanks to both you, Liam, and Joe for having me on. I know it was fun last time we did it and, pleased to do it again with you. So, looking forward to a good conversation. 

But to answer your question, so I think I’ll give you one organizational priority maybe, and I’ll give you one, maybe a little bit more personal. 

So organizationally, I mean, we do a lot, so we always have, you know, we have an MBO structure. So, we  end up with nine or ten, you know, priorities for the year. But I think if I had to pick one, so that’s a little bit unique and something that’s really been a recent focus for us. It’s really us, really setting a priority to doing a better job serving minority and woman-owned businesses. You know, we’ve, I guess almost three years ago now formed a, or committed to a strategy, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and as an organization. You know, and comprehensive from the board to the staff. And then perhaps most importantly, the services and the clients that we’re providing or that we’re providing services to.

And so over those, you know, two and a half years we’ve made a ton of progress. And I’m really proud of, it’s one of the things, you know, I’ve been here for about 24 years and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of is just the progress we’ve been able to make in terms of serving, again, minority and women owned businesses particularly in the access to capital side of things. It’s, you know, there’s a lot of statistics to talk about the inequities that exist for, again, women and minority owned businesses. And the fact that how difficult they have in accessing credit, and if they do access credit. The, you know, it’s much more expensive money for them. They’re paying higher interest rates and so forth.

So,  we set out to try to make a difference, at least here in Chester County, and proud to say we’ve been able to do so. We recently received a $20 million allocation from the state through some federal funding they had. And so now we formed an eight county coalition that is gonna be lending out that $20 million over the next several years with a real priority on lending to minority and women owned businesses. 

So, and there’s a lot of other small steps along the way that I can talk about in detail if we need to. But I think we’ve got plenty to talk about. But that organizationally is a priority, will be a priority moving forward. And again, proud of how much progress we’ve made in that regard already. So, that’s organizational.

I think on a personal level, you know, you mentioned the new title that I have. And on a day-to-day basis, I would say that not a ton is changing. You know, Gary Smith, our CEO is still here. He’s been here for, you know, I sound long of 24 years. Gary’s been here for 40, almost 48 years. So, I’m still a rookie as compared to Gary. But, so he’s still here. 

But, you know, in my role and in, as you know, being promoted to President, I think there are some things that I wanna try to do to, you know, so I have a very much an operational focus now as my title might suggest. But I am gonna, you know, be a little bit more intentional about trying to take a step out of the, just the constant go, go, go that we have and try to take a step back. And maybe think a little more strategically and think big picture more than I have in the past.

Not that I didn’t, I mean, Gary and I obviously had, you know, strategic conversations. But, you know, I think that the primary focus for me has always been about, all right, we got these 10 things to do. How are we gonna, how are we operational? How are we gonna get these done? And now, I’m still gonna be doing that, but I’m gonna try to carve out time to make sure that I’m a little bit more strategic in my approach to my everyday job.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Thanks for that. That sounds great. Now you mentioned, usually you have 10, 9-10 priorities for the year. 

Oh. I know a lot has changed since the last time we talked. I was actually go able to go to the doctor recently without having to wear a mask. And so now that the pandemic emergency declarations have ended, do you anticipate any changes or new priorities for the CCEDC?

Mike Grigalonis: I mean, I think to directly answer your question, I think that, you know, as a business community, as an organization, I guess I kind of feel like we’re kind of pass those covid impacted operational type things. So, you know, certainly next year we reevaluate our priorities every year through a very formal, as I said, MBO process. So, certainly there will be some new things and some tweak things. And we’ll, you know, we’ll tweak some things and look at what the priorities are.

But in terms of like, oh, you know,, a chalk line that the Covid pandemic emergency stuff has been, I don’t see any direct changes coming from that. You know, I think we’ve slowly been emerging and evolving from that covid stuff for, you know, I don’t know. I guess over a year now. So, and as you say, we’re, I feel like we’re pretty much back to normal. I mean, certainly there have been some changes to how we all operate, both personally and professionally. But, in terms of like direct covid impacts, I think those are pretty far behind us at this point.

Liam Dempsey: So that’s interesting because in the early days of Covid, when you were on the show, and certainly through my involvement with one of the CCED’s programs, Iag Innovative Technology Action Group, it was pretty clear that your entire team from top to bottom we’re all hands on deck all the time. 

And now that things really have changed, I wonder if you can share a little bit about, you know, you folks were running so hard and so fast and you know, to talk about the operations. Probably not thinking strategically ’cause there just wasn’t any time. There was so much that really needed to get done in a hurry. Not that you were being stupid about it, but there wasn’t time to plan. What are we gonna do in six months? ’cause you’re up to your eyeballs. What has it been like transitioning out of that? And I guess what I’m kind of getting at is, what was it like when the crazy mad rush slowed down and you had a chance to catch your breath. How did you and your team and the entire organization kind of, where do we go from here? Yeah. Talk about that if you would. 

Mike Grigalonis: No. That’s a really interesting question. And, you know, I guess a couple thing. I think it, no question. I mean, that was a… I’ve hopefully once in a lifetime, once in a generational time. 

Liam Dempsey: Yes, please! Yes, please! One and done. Thank you. 

Mike Grigalonis: Mm-hmm. In a weird way, it was kind of fun looking back, you know, it’s because it was so frantic. But most importantly, we felt like we were helping so many businesses that were literally just desperate. And to be able to be responsive and help in some small way, I know was rewarding to us, to all of us personally.

I mean, it’s just, it’s again one of those things that I’m really proud about our team here is just they all to a person really care about the businesses and the communities that we’re serving. So to be able to do that at the highest level at the counties from a business standpoint, probably highest point of need that we’ll ever have was, was definitely a rewarding time for all of us.

So there is a little bit of that, you know, that high I guess if you will, that we were on providing those services has subside. Obviously, we’re not in that totally frantic emergency response mode, so it has been a little bit of an adjustment to fall back into more normal operations, as you say. I mean, I think we’ve done a nice job. And frankly, some of the stuff has continued, like, for example, on the loan side of our shop, we’ve got about a 10 person loan team here, SBA lending and some other state programs and some of our own local programs

But up until recently that is, we’ve seen three record years of volume in a row. So that’s has continued. Now it’s slowed down a little bit here in recent months. But, you know, that has continued to really be on that treadmill of just go, go, go. But I think, you know, I think we’ve adjusted nicely. It’s definitely a little bit different than it was in those chaotic times, but I think we’re finding our stride here a little bit back in the normal Chester County business community.

Joe Casabona: Nice. And speaking of that, right, obviously y’all helped a lot of businesses. I was a recipient of one of the, the PPP loans and so my business benefited from some of these state and federal programs. But as far as the Chester County part of the name, right, how do you support the local community and the local economy? You know, given with some concrete examples maybe?

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. I mean, we support in a lot of different ways. I mean, we try to try to organize it down into four core areas. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do ’cause we’re a pretty,  we have a wide waterfront of the things that we do. But we basically organize it under four categories: Financing or, you know, access to capital is a phrase I used earlier, but helping that business that’s growing or needs working capital or is buying machinery and equipment or buying a new building. We have lots of different programs that are long-term rates, fixed rates, lower interest loan programs, less equity requirement, all those things that are attractive to a business. We’ve got a lot of different programs. So financing is one of our core services.

Workforce development is an area where, you know, companies that are hiring or looking to develop a pipeline for the future, or maybe they need a little bit of help training. There’s grants that sometimes we secure, but you know, focusing on workforce development and trying to help businesses attract and retain employees. And there’s lots of different ways to do that, but we’re very active in that space. 

We do a lot an increasing amount of support for entrepreneurship, whether that be like a tech startup in the emerging tech or life science or it, all the way down, or not down, but over to, you know, your main street business, whether it’s a laundromat or a pizza shop or a salon or whatever it might be. You know in recent years, we’ve really done a much better job and really covid thrust us into serving those businesses. And we’ve really latched onto that and are doing, I think a much more of that, than we had in the past, which is great as I touched on earlier.

And then the fourth area is the more kind of traditional economic development stuff where you’re talking about the real estate side of our business where we’re helping companies find sites or find buildings, or we’re helping companies that might be thinking about investing Chester County. Try to help them and guide them and help them understand why Chester County is the right place to start your business and grow your business and raise your family, and all those good things.

So those are, the four areas. But really at the end of the day, we want to be a resource to the businesses that we’re serving. So we go in. And yes, we have those kind of off the shelf services that I just described. But we really go in and try to talk to a company, understand what their needs are, and then try to help. And if something that we can’t do, we try to be resourceful to have lots of partners and colleagues that we can point them to if it’s not something that we can help directly. So at the end of the day, we’re really just a resource for the business community. 

Liam Dempsey: That’s great. I wanna kind of touch on a big part of what we’re trying to do at Start Local is bring together the local business, nonprofit, working, living community in and around Chester County. And one of the ways that we can do that is we can flag up organizations, individuals, businesses that probably get less of the limelight than the quality of what they’re doing deserves. 

I wonder if you’d take just a moment, and highlight a local area business, a local area, nonprofit, you know, one or two of those that more people in our area should know about?

Mike Grigalonis: Hmm. Yeah. That’s an interesting question and that of all of the questions you’ve asked so far, that’s the hardest question because there are so many. I mean, Chester County is a special place and I think that our you know, just the community and the number of people and the commitment to giving back and, just the commitment to help each other I think is pretty unique here. I mean, I’m sure it exists elsewhere, but that’s definitely one of our strengths here as a county. So, the list of dedicated and helpful nonprofits is long.

Liam Dempsey:  Absolutely.

Mike Grigalonis: I think. And, you know, selfishly I would say that I think a lot of people don’t know about us. So, you know, I’ll be selfish for a second. I think that, you know, there are certainly a core group that know about us, but there’s lots of businesses despite our best marketing efforts and, you know, our, everything we do, there’s still, there’s, you know, there’s a last count, I don’t know, there’s 15,000 plus businesses in Chester County and so. Yeah. We’re serving a lot of them, but there’s probably the large, probably the majority we’re not. I mean, so there’s lots of businesses out there that could benefit from our services, but, you know. So…

And there’s, you know, I would also give a shout out to our, so we’re not a lot of people think like we’re a chamber of commerce and we’re not, we’re very different from a chamber of commerce. We’re much more transactional as I said, financing and real estate transactions and those types of things. And chambers of commerce tend to be a little bit more about networking and advocacy. Maybe a little bit of an educational component, and there’s a little bit of overlap, but, not a whole lot.

But we, the commonality is that we’re both serving the business community in Chester County. We’ve got a very strong chamber infrastructure both at the local level. So there are local ones like, you know, the Greater West Chester or the Southern Chester County or the, you know, Western Chester County. And I forget how many, I think there’s 9 or 10 of those there, I think.

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. I think there are nine. Yeah. Exton Chamber Commerce. 

Mike Grigalonis: And then there’s the County Chamber. 

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. 

Mike Grigalonis: As well who’s also, you know, a critical part of that infrastructure. So I think our chambers of commerce, though, there are a lot, and sometimes it could be a little bit confusing as to, you know, to the business of, you know, where do I fit in both. But they’re all, I think, you know, combined with what we do, combined with the chambers, I think is a really great business support infrastructure that we have in their Canada. Not all counties have candidly. So…

And the other thing that I would, you know, talk, you know, for Chester County that I think we have an advantage of is the public-private partnership that we enjoy. There are lots of other counties that are very splintered in their approach to particularly economic development. And in Chester County, you know, we partner very well with our county, and our county commissioners and our county department heads. And so we really function as the economic development deliveries and it all comes through us. 

Whereas, as I say, others are splitter in other counties. And, you know, I guess there’s some good in that, but I think it tends to add to confusion and it tends to confuse the business a little bit. And so we have it all through us. And again, we don’t do everything, but we are the kind of the portal that businesses come to hopefully. And then we can guide them where they need to be if it’s not us to help directly. 

So, I’m meandering around your question a little bit. But, I think, you know, I wanted to touch on the spirit of community that we have in Chester County and that’s strong Business infrastructure that we have between us, and our local and our county, the chamber, infrastructure as well.

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. I appreciate them. Before I ask Joe to move the conversation along, I just wanna share that I’m really grateful that you talked about the council and reminding folks that,, you know, it is a nonprofit. It is not a government organization. It’s not a department of the county or an agent of the state and sometimes helping businesses and in the community realize that is a challenge. So, I’m glad you were able to share that and focus on that.

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. And I just, but Joe, not to cut you off there. I know you were gonna jump in, but, I think it’s just, it’s another thing that I think makes us as an organization effective is that we know that we have to figure out ways to make our, I mean, we’re a business at the end of the day. We’re a nonprofit, but we’re operating like a business. And we have to find those sources of revenue and make sure that we’re spending responsibly and all those things that you, as business owners do, we have to do too. And so,  even though we’re a nonprofit, but it, you know, I think that keeps us nimble and sharp and always, you know, trying to look at that next thing that needs, you know, needs attention in the County. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And I mean, to that end right, you mentioned that a lot of people don’t know about you. There are 15,000 businesses, right? Is what you said in Chester County. What do you need the most help with? Or what do you need help with as far as completing your mission or driving your mission forward?

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. Yeah. And I appreciate that question. I think touched on it, I Jump the, I guess I jumped the question of the answer a little bit because it really, if I had to pick one thing, it probably would be awareness marketing, making sure every business knows who we are and how we can help. And, you know, we have…Liam, I know you know Patrick on our staff here, and he and Leslie do a great job with our marketing, but we’re, you know, we don’t have a massive marketing budget that can do what we’d love to do. So, I think getting the word out is probably it. 

And then dropping down a level in terms of, you know, how somebody like you or somebody just in the community could be is just, you know, thinking about those services. Like, for example, if you know a business that, like if, to me, like, I mean, I’m biased ’cause I work here at CCBT, but to me, if you’re a business owner, and you have a financing need, we ought to be the first person you call. I mean not, and we don’t compete with the banks. Every program we do is always done in conjunction with a bank. So, if it’s a, you know, the project, let’s say it’s a million dollar project, we don’t ever, there’s no programs that we have that have us do all the full $1 million project. It’s always done in partnership or like in match with a bank. So we’re always looking to collaborate with banks. Most of our projects, frankly, come from banks. So, just getting that word out there and getting people to think about us as that first place is if you’re, if like, if you’re a growing business, I think you ought to be calling us ’cause I just think we’re a great place to start. And we can, again, just brainstorm with you, think about what resources are out there, and in a lot of cases provide services to help you, you know, grow the way you wanna grow. 

Joe Casabona: That’s great. And I mean, we are happy definitely to share, you know, links to everything  over at [startlocal.co] or wherever you’re listening to this right now. is there, but I guess a quick follow up to that, like is there something that listeners can do to help raise awareness? Is it just about telling your friends about the  CCEDC? Is there, you know, I know this is not something we kind of talked about pre-show, but I’m genuinely curious in this.

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. No. I mean, I think you said it, I mean, I think it’s just, you know, spreading the word telling friends, you know, we’re trying to, and this is an area that we’re, you know, working on. I don’t, we’re, we have some work to do, but you know, our social media presence is getting there. And you know, we actually have hired a part-time person to help that’s really essentially dedicated to social media. So, we are putting more resources to resources towards trying to be more active on social media to get that more viral spread of who we are and what we do. So we’re getting there. But, yeah. I think it’s just, you know, tell a friend and spread the word about who we are and what we do, and how we can help. 

Liam Dempsey: You heard it here, folks. Folks, keep an eye out on TikTok for Mike. 

Joe Casabona: That’s right. Mike’s gonna be doing some dances. 

Mike Grigalonis: We’re on Facebook and we’re on LinkedIn and TikTok. We joke about it, but, there probably is a time and maybe there’re, I don’t know. Do you guys, are you guys on TikTok? I know, I’m sure your kids are. 

Liam Dempsey: Good, Joe. 

Joe Casabona: My kids are not yet. But, you know, I think it’s about target audience and it’s mostly Gen Z at this point. And so maybe five, seven years, you know, if Gen Z is still there, that’s when I would want to get on there. And I suspect same of of CCEDC. 

Liam Dempsey: So, I spent a Saturday on TikTok and I’ll never get that Saturday back. And while I enjoyed it, it was not a productive use of time. But I think what TikTok has done right, is that video is the medium. Yeah. 30 to 90 seconds. 

Mike Grigalonis: Yep.

Liam Dempsey: You know, with text overlays, with audio, with video. You can give a lot, you know, how do you apply for a bank loan in 90 seconds or less? 

Mike Grigalonis: Yep. Okay. 

Liam Dempsey: You know, that kind of thing. So, I think there’s scope there, and I think there are people of all ages on TikTok. You know, a lot of it is, yes, here’s my latte or my fitness program, but there can be a lot of good content. I’m not suggesting, Mike, that you need to fire up the account today, but, something to think about. 

Mike Grigalonis: I couldn’t agree more. I think video content is absolutely where it’s at and we’ve seen that just on our own. We don’t do enough of it, but the video content that we have done, it clearly, you can see the views are up dramatically over some of the other stuff. So, totally with you, Liam. 

Liam Dempsey: Before we go too much further, I want to just ask you, you know, does the council have any open positions that you’re trying to fill? I know it’s a tough economy to get the staff and the people that we need, and we’re about workforce development here, at the council, or you are. Anyway, I say as I throw myself into the conversation. Talk to us about that. 

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. We, it’s funny, you ask. We do have two positions that we’re trying to fill right now, and both are, you know, I would say emerging growing areas for us.  

One is in the area of agriculture. So I don’t, you know, those of you that know us, know that may know that our CEO, Gary Smith is a farmer, has been a farmer his whole life. And of course agriculture is an important part of Chester County. It’s one of the, really, the one of the strengths of our economy is the diversity of it. And at the top of that is ag. Nobody else in the Southeast has obviously near the ag economy that we have. 

So ag is an important part of our economy and we have various programs and services to try to help those farmers and those agribusiness folks out there. And so,  we have a position now for an ag program manager. We have a great one who’s still gonna be around, but unfortunately, she’s gonna be going to work for Penn State. So, we have an opening to fill that AG Program Manager position. So if there’s any ag enthusiasts out there, we’d love to hear from you. 

And then we also have a really neat program that we’re gonna be launching. And I can’t tell you too much about it because we’re still technically embargoed by the Commonwealth. But I think literally tomorrow is going to be announced a really neat new program we’re doing that. All I can really say is that it will target,  you know, college students. I guess I would just say that college students either are current or perspective or,  you know, kind of in that age range, I guess, and a new program that will unveil tomorrow. But It’s a large grant and it’s going to be very intense over the next year. And so we’re gonna be looking for some help in implementing that grant. 

So, if you like working with motivated young college students who are looking to really get some certifications or some degrees to really boost their career, that’s where we’re gonna be looking for. So we’ve got a couple good positions we’re looking to fill, so I appreciate you asking.

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. That’s great. Is that kind of like a program coordinator, program administrator? Is that the kind of role, or is it still kind of coming together as it’s taken shape? 

Mike Grigalonis: Yeah. It’s gonna, it’s kind of, it’s probably going to be a program coordinator is probably. I don’t know, we’ve come up with the exact title, but that’s, I think…

Liam Dempsey: Sure. Sure. Sure.

Mike Grigalonis: Pretty close. Yep.

Joe Casabona: That’s fantastic. That all the questions we had, Mike. Is there anything else you’d like to  mention or if people wanna get in touch with you, how can they do that? 

Mike Grigalonis: Well, people, I would draw ’em to our website. That’s probably easiest for purposes of this. And it’s [ccedcpa.com]. So it’s pretty simple if you could understand the C’s and the E’s and the D’s that are in that website. But Chester County Economic Development Council, [ccedcpa.com], we’ve got a pretty current and dynamic website. So that’s a good place to start. All our contact information is on there, of our staff and the various heads of the various departments that we have here are all listed on there. So, that’s the best place to go.

And I appreciate you guys having me on. I don’t know. You know, from your standpoint, if there’s anything that you’re hearing, I know you’re, I think you’re both business owners. Are there things that you’re seeing or experiencing or pain points that you’re having that you think we ought to know about?

Liam Dempsey: Well, I’ll share one. And this is coming to you, Mike, both from, you know my role as business owner, as a community organizer outside of what we’re talking about today in the WordPress community. 

So, website software. And then even, I guess in my role and support and volunteering through iag, one of the programs through CCEDC is trying to find the balance of bringing in-person networking back in ways that enable people to embrace it. You know, we shut it down for years for a good reason. And so, there’s a reluctance to come back. And the reluctance, I think is multifold the reasons, right? There are some ongoing health concerns. There is just like life practices. We just, you know, we haven’t gone out and networked in real life, if you will, for a long time. And so…

And then just schedules, right? We can do it on Zoom. We can do it over the internet. Do we want to spend the time driving on a Tuesday night? On a Thursday afternoon? So, that’s part of what we’re trying to address here on the show is try to build that community and remind ourselves and the folks listening that Technology is a great tool. 

Both Joe and I make all our money in technology. But the human interaction is super valuable and super rewarding in ways that sometimes technology can’t be.

So that, I guess my request to you, Mike, in your role at the council is, keep working to host in-person events. Keep trying to bring people back and try to persevere through that. I think, you know, we’ll, we’re seeing some signs of return to it. We just had a local WordPress meetup on Monday, and it was the first time that we had a hundred percent RSVP to attendee rate. So that was pretty exciting.

Joe Casabona: Wow!

Liam Dempsey: So rather than keep him going, I’ll stop there and turn it over to Joe.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Well, I mean, Liam, you touched on a lot of things, right. One of the reasons I wanted to do this show in the first place was to meet more local business owners and network more in the space. I just went to my first big conference post pandemic, and I feel like I lost a little bit of my networking mojo. Aand so yeah, in-person events, ways to connect business owners with other business owners is something that I would love to see more of.

Mike Grigalonis: Well, that’s helpful. That’s a, you know, obviously very appropriate and timely comment. I mean, we’re, I think it’s, you know, there’s, I guess different reasons. But I think you’re right. I think it’s more behavioral and habitual. I mean there’s probably are probably some still people out there with a little bit of health concern. 

But I think more of it is just that we’ve just got outta that rhythm of, I mean, know me personally, like Pre Covid, I was probably in a event or two, you know, twice a week somewhere, you know, whether it’s a luncheon or dinner or whatever. And I’ve gotten outta that mode. I’m trying. But I’m having to force myself to get back into it because you just get outta that cadence and I’m sure, you know, everybody’s the same way. But I appreciate that, and what you guys are saying, we have, ironically, we have our big Hall of Fame Award dinner next week in Phoenix, built the foundry. We’ve had it there for a whole bunch of years in a row, and we’ve got great, I’m happy to report. We have great attendance. So I think we’re back to full capacity, probably around 400 people. So that, I think it is coming back.

And I think we’re trying to do more of, on a smaller scale, trying to do, we call ’em brown tables, but trying to bring together business owners. Again, like yourselves in these smaller, they now, they tend to be zooms and not in person out of convenience, but at least there’s the spirit of coming together and networking and meeting each other the way we are here today on the screen. But it’s still, you know, better than isolation. 

And so, and those have been very well attended.The feedback’s been great on them. Informal just exchanges of entrepreneurs talking to each other about challenges they’re facing, solutions they’ve come up with, you know, those types of things. So…

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. Those informal conversations. Oh my gosh! Mike, you figured out the problem that I’ve been banging my head against for six months. And it’s that easy. Oh geez. 

Mike Grigalonis: Thanks.

Liam Dempsey: You know, next I’ll buy the next beer or the coffee’s on me. So, thanks for coming. That’s great. That’s great. And I’ll take just a minute to give a little shout out to the next upcoming ITAG event, which is called Beyond ping-pong, real strategies for tech talent retention. And it’s on June 6th at 4:00 PM at the council’s offices in Exton. And it’s gonna be a panel around what businesses can do to attract and retain the best people especially in this kind of climate. So, come on out. Join the fund there. It’s in person. It’s real life. It’s easy to get to, and hopefully to see you then. 

Joe Casabona: Fantastic. And for all of the CCEDC events, again, make sure to check out the website,  [ccedcpa.com]. 

Mike. Mike Grigalonis, President and CEO of the CCEDC, thanks for joining us today. Really appreciate it.

Mike Grigalonis: Thanks for having me, guys. Enjoyed it. 

Liam Dempsey: Thanks, Mike. See you soon. 

Joe Casabona: All right for now. Thank you for listening.

And until next time. We’ll see you out there. Make sure to get all the show notes and links over at [startlocal.co].

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