Business Owners Gather to Support Dance Studio

The owner of U.S. Dance Club is looking for ways to bring in more customers to generate revenue for her business.


Ellen Seelen did not get much sleep during the night of April 13. She had to be up early to prepare breakfast for about 20 people who were coming to her studio, , that morning for a . They were coming to help Seelen revive her business, which has been struggling during the economic recession.

"There were so many things to think about," she said. "I am trying to let people see this place."

Seelen, who has , was setting up the hot trays for her homemade English muffin sandwiches and clearing space so people could talk shop.

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 85 percent of small business owners in the country still think the economy is "on the wrong track" and 52 percent said the biggest issue facing them is "the general economic climate."

On April 13, the held its monthly networking event called the . The  is a chance for chamber members to network, eat breakfast and discuss topics affecting small businesses.

The Chamber of Commerce has stepped in to help the dance studio. , who helped organize the event, said the breakfast was "a good example of social capital." 

"People coming together to help someone in the community that is struggling that is social capital," he said. "By the chamber members in attendance, it showed that the community is willing to come together."

Business owners and chamber members from the area attended the event and offered ways to help Seelen bring in new customers and grow her business. One of those in attendance was , who talked with Seelen about benefits the state offers to small businesses.

"We are slowly see businesses grow," she said. However, "there is no quick turnaround."

Wertenbach said that the businesses that will bounce back are the ones that are willing to change and develop new ideas, products and management styles. Anyone would does that should be "in fairly decent shape," she added.

"Did they use the economic recession to retool," Wertenbach said. "The old is not coming back."

Business owners have to overcome the psychological aspect of the recession as well and need to upgrade their "master skills" such as learning more about managing their finances, using the Internet and social media effectively and trying to reach a broader clientele, Wertenbach said.

"There are good resources available that is giving us an opportunity for hope," she said.

Wertenbach said the state is offering business owners tax credits of $500 per month for three years for each full-time job they create. The credits increase if the person is a veteran, disable or unemployed, she added. 

"This is a most perfect situation," Wertenbach said.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees can also apply for state grants worth up to $100,000 with 4 percent interest over a 10-year-period, Wertenbach added.

"Small businesses don't know what is available," she said.

The turnaround will not be quick for many businesses, however there is a chance for a quick stimulation, Wertenbach said.

State Sen. Paul Doyle (D-Rocky Hill) made an appearance at the networking breakfast and offered his support as well.

The studio is desperately in need of more customers, Seelan said. Performing Arts Teacher Annie Stefan is hoping that the studio can bring in more children and young adults who are interested in pop music and dancing. She even suggested creating a studio dance team.

“It would be good for the club to have a younger generation involved,” Stefan said. “It would bring more men, too, who love good looking girls.”

Seelen agreed with her instructor.

“I hope we can get more people to join,” she said.

In the end, Seelen said the purpose of the breakfast was not only to bring in new customers, but also to preserve a piece of Rocky Hill history. 

"It's not just about the business, but the community," she said. "We have a lot of history here."

For more information about the chamber, call 860-258-7633, email execdir@rhchamber.org or visit their website.

For more information about the U.S. Dance Club, call 860-529-2888 or 860-967-1649 or visit the club's website.

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