Powerful Resources for Manufacturers

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Elena Garuc. Elena is the Executive Director and the Director of Marketing and Communications at FuzeHub.  Fuzehub is the marketing arm of the New York MEP.  

Generally, in the eCommerce series, we talk about manufacturing problems and trends. Today, our guest talked about powerful solutions for manufacturers.

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Elena Garuc. Elena is the Executive Director and the Director of Marketing and Communications at FuzeHub.  Fuzehub is the marketing arm of the New York MEP.

The conversation started with Curt introhttps://ecommercemgmt.com/ducing Elena. After that, Elena introduced what she does. She also explained what MEP is and how to implement it. After this, Elena talked about her background a little bit and how she got into MVP.

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She said that she was not a manufacturing person, but she got into marketing and sales when she joined a company that was working and implementing MEP. There she learned a lot about it and found her interest in it as well.

After this, she shared that when her co-worker resigned as the Director that is when she took her place and started implementing her strategies on it. Moving on, she said that to find powerful solutions for manufacturers, you have to create programs and find ways to implement them as well.

Further into the conversation, Curt asked Elena about how to encourage manufacturers to find out where to contact their MEPs immediately. To this Elena shared the entire process in detail. She also shared the website where you can find your MVP and region in accordance.

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After this, Curt asked Elena about what are some reasonable grant opportunities that manufacturers can expect on calling on an MVP. To this, Elena shared that the US provided a grant to these MEPs. Moreover, this grant is provided to all the regional MEPs and this is where any manufacturer can go.

Apart from this, Elena talked about her marketing experience and how to find powerful solutions for manufacturers in this regard. Elena said that she still considers her company a startup because it was started in 2013.

Moreover, for marketing, she has a team in which people have 20+ years of experience in marketing. Their work here is to connect manufacturers with marketing professionals. By the end of the conversation, Curt asked Elena if there were any success stories regarding powerful solutions for manufacturers in MEP.

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Responding to this, Elena said that if people don’t know about the New York MVP, you need to know about it. Moreover, she said that in 2020, this particular program has given around 6000 jobs around New York. This is how impactful it is.

Sharing more of these success stories, Elena said that they work with a company Pavilion, where they helped them save around $500,000 DLD through their cybersecurity program. According to Elena, this is how you can create powerful solutions for manufacturers in your own way.

The conversation ended with Curt and Damon thanking Elena for her time.

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mep, manufacturers, marketing, companies, manufacturing, program, grants, state, kurt, fuse, new york state, mvp, hub, center, resource, new york, regional centers, meps, dan, privilege


Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Elena Garuc


Damon Pistulka  00:00

Everybody’s on stage. We are doing this Kurt it is 1032 we are starting Dan bigger


Curt Anderson  00:05

on Rhonda spot.


Damon Pistulka  00:07

We did it on time for you. We’re going live on LinkedIn here and then we’ll get going. So here we go. About six seconds and then we’re ready.


Curt Anderson  00:22

Happy Friday.


Damon Pistulka  00:24

All right everyone. Welcome once again to the manufacturing ecommerce Success Series. I’m one of your co host Damon Pistulka with me I’ve got Kurt Anderson partner in crime co host the person that knows the most people in manufacturing e commerce. Oh, let’s kick it off. Kurt. We got a great guest with us today. We’re gonna do some stuff. We’re live on LinkedIn. So if you’re listening on LinkedIn, let me know where you’re listening from. I’m watching the comments over here and we’re going to get it going take it over Kurt Damon,


Curt Anderson  00:58

Thank you brother. So man, where would I where would I be without you dude, I just I’d be completely lost So guys, Damon exit your way. He needs no introduction but the man with the plan the exit strategy specialists. Damon, thank you Happy Friday. I want to give a huge hello to my dear buddy Dan. I wore the shirt for you just for you. Dan Biggers in the house. We’ve got Dinah so we go from a lot from New York all the way to Alaska. We got done. Aaron our friend Gail Chris Harrington. Vale. Webber rate my backyard guys, what an honor.

What a privilege to introduce our guests today. So laina group, welcome, Happy Friday. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. What a great introduction. Happy Friday to you and thank you everyone who’s watching. So guys, so David, are you sitting down for this you got you got to sit down for this. So I’m going to cover I’m like Elena has accomplished so much in her young career.

So leyna sit back, I’m going to rattle off a couple of things here. So Atlanta is the executive director of fuse hub fuse hub is the New York center MEP for statewide MEP. She has won the 40 under 40 top leadership award, Dr. That cracked that mic. And here’s an you know what in daymond, I had the privilege the privilege and honor of working with quite a few MEPs throughout the countries, you know, leyna I’m gonna say this is the first time that I’ve met one of the founders of an MVP. Do I have that correct?


Elena Garuc  02:27

Ah, yeah, in a way. I’m a founder of the few sub not for profit, and we are the MVP, you know, so there’s no, there’s no guarantee it’ll always stay in MVP. You know, it’s a competitive process. But I am a founder a few sub Yes,


Curt Anderson  02:39

founder a few subs. So this is the first time that we’ve we’ve acted, I’m going to say with a founder of an MEP. We’re going to dig into what the MEP network is. And Chris Gayle, Aaron, Val, you guys are going to absolutely love this. So fuse hub is founded by a woman, women and run by women. And so I did a little research on you. And so that was wonderful graduate of college of Saint Rose, and share a little bit about let’s I have a bunch of questions. Let’s dig in first, tell everybody a little bit about the MEP network. For those that aren’t familiar with the MEP, how it works and benefits for manufacturers?


Elena Garuc  03:15

Sure. Well, the MEP S stands for the manufacturing extension partnership program. It’s a national program funded by NIST. MEP is the is the program. There’s one in every state in Puerto Rico. So there’s 51 centers. But there’s about 358 service centers across the US. Because there’s typically one contract per state, and that could be a government agency, a non for profit or university.

And so what they do is really help manufacturers stay more competitive. There are a wide variety of services, I’ll just say a few. There’s so many I don’t want to lose any but just helping manufacturers reduce cost, improve efficiencies, help with workforce challenges, create new products, find new products.

That is really the goal of this program is to help small and medium manufacturers that provide them the resources they need to grow and thrive. In New York, we’re a little unique, I was telling her earlier. Empire State Development, our government agency is the MEP center. And it’s very beneficial for New York state because they also contribute to the funding of the MEP program, which allows 11 centers across New York State 10 regional centers, one in every region for manufacturers to access these resources, as well as a statewide center which


Curt Anderson  04:41

nice, awesome and so, couple things I want to share. This is super exciting. What an honor and privilege, Elena that you guys I believe you went to an award through the Albany business review where you bet top voted top places to work this year.


Elena Garuc  04:55

Yeah, was it this year or last year? It was recently I’m losing time because That’s


Curt Anderson  05:01

the whole blur. I looked like it was 2021. I thought I saw an interview. And so what an honor what a privilege. And again, at your young age talk, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about, you know how you landed? And let’s start with how did you end up in manufacturing? Okay. Manufacturing world, if you will?


Elena Garuc  05:19

Yes. Well, I always like to tell everybody, I’m not a manufacturer, right. I’m, I’m a marketing, but I make programs so that I kind of say, Well, I do manufacture programs and services. And you know how, but I started working at one of the regional MEP centers, and it’s your basic economic development organization. And I was leading programs to connect technology companies, from biotech, biotech to software, and creating a lot of entrepreneurial programs, just getting companies connected to the right resources. I was in charge of rolling out new programs, I was in charge of marketing and events. And then I had the opportunity I was there for about 12 years.

So I saw hands on what the MVP is we’re doing. My direct report was the director of the MVP center, Jeff Lawrence, who unfortunately passed away. And if you’re familiar with fuse hub, you’ll know that I named our million dollar fund and in his honor for all the work he did for manufacturers across New York State.

And so I was at the regional MVP for about 12 years, got the opportunity to join the co founder, my co founder, Laura man, on a concept of just finding resources for manufacturers that where to look and really connecting them to the right technology, resource technology experts. And that kind of idea spun into, you know, a whole non for profit, you know, organization, which is now fused.


Curt Anderson  06:48

Nice. Awesome. So, manufacturers though marketing guru marketing expert, you, you found your, your career path with manufacturing. I also admire, you know, I’ve been I’ve had the honor and privilege been working with your team. Steve, we’re tight with Steve Leto, of course. And that’s how my connection with you.

And Steve does a great job describing how the MEP network came into play, and tried to help manufacturers be more competitive with foreign competition. So again, as you’ve you know, and it’s wonderful seeing young talent, like yourself coming into this our manufacturing world, if you will talk a little bit about, you know, what inspires you what’s driven, like, you know, how would you label or describe your leadership ability, that you’ve built this amazing program from scratch in your rock? To what, like, 1214 employees now?


Elena Garuc  07:36

Yeah, well, our team, you know, we’re mixed with some consultants and part time, but um, you know, I always when I got the opportunity, it’s a funny story, I didn’t really apply for the position, my, my co founder was the the executive director, she resigned, and I was the only employee at the time, and the board said, you know, give it a give it a year, I cry, no, no, and here I am five years later, because I realized a lot of building at fuse hub.

And running a non for profit is a lot of the things that I’ve done in my career, creating these programs to help companies, it doesn’t matter if you’re a software company, if you’re in manufacturing, if you’re, you know, in another sector, find a way to create these programs, understand how to fund them, bring people together, you know, understand the marketing, understand the rollout, and understand how to measure the impacts. And that’s really what all our programs Whoo.

And so I just took that that skill set and put it into everything that we have been assigned to do as an MEP center, you know, there are certain deliverables you must do to receive that funding. And so that is a large part of our charter. But, you know, we are also doing a lot of other initiatives, we’re getting funding from other agencies. And so, you know, we’re really looking to diversify that portfolio so we can continue to be assistance for, you know, companies of all kinds in New York State.


Curt Anderson  09:02

Awesome. And again, so in what I admire, so I, you know, I’m friends with a number of folks on your team that you’ve put together. So again, you know, you know, you’ve attracted you’ve built, you’ve developed this dynamic team, you guys are, you know, over this five year plan, and again, it that testament of, you know, Albany Best Places to Work. I mean, that’s just such a credit to, you know, again, your leadership and you know, what you’ve done at the MVP, how, how do you attract like a Steve melito A Kim Lloyd like these, these amazing people that you that are on your team? How do you attract those folks?


Elena Garuc  09:36

I don’t know. It’s so funny. I was looking around and I’m like, how could I be so lucky to have such a great, a great team? I you know, I really I honestly say that, you know, I think you know, as someone who’s the executive director, you’re constantly thinking about the organization and always worried about made sure that money that they honestly think some employees feel the same or as passionate about that as I am, and I don’t think that’s as much Common in a lot of small, you know, not for profits.

So I had met Kim originally. And you know, Kim Lloyd, who was on our team may have, you know, said to her, you know, I found Steve Everton, who’s on our team, you know, they sort of been in the network, we do a lot of interviewing for some of our positions. And it’s really important for us to find people that are passionate about economic development, I would say, you know, not everybody can have a career, because at the end of the day, this is all economic development, you know, manufacturing, marketing, but you really, that’s what you’re doing.

So they have to be passionate about it, they have to understand, you know, they’re, you know, sometimes the hours are long, there’s travel, but they have to really understand the mission. And I think just providing a good culture at fuse hub just makes us a great team and the way we interact. You know, I tried to roll my sleeves up with everyone, nothing’s beneath me, I get right down to the you know, I’m still doing admin work, you know, I’m not that kind of leader. And I think that keeps us draw.


Curt Anderson  10:59

Awesome. And our dear, you know, your biggest fan is with us today, Dan bigger. He’s, he’s, he puts a little I love Stephen Leto. I think we all love Leto, he’s awesome. And you know what, I’d love for you to connect with Chris Harrington. She’s in the crowd today. She’s the president of Gen alpha says, amazing e commerce software platform for manufacturers were very close, they do amazing work and solutions for for manufacturers.

So let’s talk let’s say change gears, but let’s talk a little bit again, a manufacturer, you know, I’m I’m, I’m down in the trenches on a daily basis, putting out fires, I’ve just survived COVID, you know, safety, you know, PPP loans, all everything that’s going on this past year, and I’m not familiar with my local MEP, what’s a situation or cert? How what would you encourage that manufacturer to reach out to what types of situations are they in, where they should be contacting their MEP immediately for help?


Elena Garuc  11:58

Sure, um, you know, nationally, I try not to go out of the way they can they position the services, but there’s three main areas, there’s business growth, which is anything from exporting to marketing and sales, workforce, and, you know, product design and development. And there’s business improvement, which is your supply chain, your lean your adoption of, you know, ai 4.0. And then there’s this risk mitigation, which big right now is on cyber. So those are just the main categories.

I do think that the MEP is like to be a trusted advisor in anything manufacturing. And you know, you know, many of them, some of them are former manufacturing worked in manufacturing plants. So they have that hands on expertise. And now they’re just, you know, moving into a more service oriented opportunity. So I would say, if you’re not familiar with the Emmy program in New York, there is a website, you know, we all are, you know, there’s one in every region. But because we’re all nonprofits with separate names, the best thing to do is go to WWW dot New York MEP spelled out new york.org.

Find your region, find your MVP center, or you could just reach out to a few top and we will make sure you get connected to your regional center. But you know, I wouldn’t say wait till there’s a problem to reach out to yourself. To know them. I mean, even if you don’t have a problem, they’re constantly doing events, webinars, there’s new programs, new funding opportunities, from time to time, we do have grants we give out. So get to know them, get to know what they have get on their mailing list. And that’s just a really good way to kind of engage


Curt Anderson  13:31

in that’s a great way to segue into this next question. And, um, I do have to digress one second. So I’m a little bittersweet with Steven Leto, because as Dan bigger puts in the chat, Steven Leto actually helped Dan land his new gig, and it’s an awesome day night, we had a privilege we had dinner together recently. And Dan, congratulations, dude, we are so happy for you. What a What a wonderful opportunity.

But man, we’re sad New York is losing losing a gem and what it what an ambassador and what an advocate for manufacturing. But let’s talk about grants. You know, sometimes there’s such a misperception on grants, you know, when, you know, help clarify a little bit like what are realistic or reasonable grant opportunities that manufacturers could expect calling on an MVP?


Elena Garuc  14:18

You know, they come and go, I would say, you know, right now, the MVP, a fuse around. The US received money from the federal government during COVID. From part of the cares act. So we had grants about $10,000 each, that certain MEPs were running to help companies produce PBE or a company that had a technology to help sustain the lifespan span of a beauty product. We have some grants, there may not be any left. We’re getting to the end of this program, but to help companies that are looking to reassure you know, that’s a big issue, supply chain assistance, and then just other grants for companies looking to do more virtual training with their employees.

So So those were kind of more, those won’t be so ongoing. There are opportunities where your MEP center can try to find funding for a service that they could provide for you. It’s not guaranteed. But a lot of utility companies, sometimes as part of their economic development programs, support National Grid by StG, they support those projects, because they have a mission to help manufacturers grow in their economic development.

A great partner of the MVPs is the Workforce Development Institute, WD AI, they’re very similar to the mewps. There’s one in every region, they provide small grants for manufacturers to do training, by equipment, you know, help create jobs. So you know, really, depending on what you’re looking for, oh, and I should also say, cybersecurity, we just got done funding 67 companies with cybersecurity grants to help them get cyber assessments. So there are pots of money, you know, it’s not always there. But we do try to find some funding to offset the cost of, you know, some services.


Curt Anderson  16:05

Can you let’s, let’s continue on that one for a second. So the cybersecurity is just such a huge, huge topic. We were, we had Sylvia Paulson from NIST was on our program several months ago. And she’s the cybersecurity expert at NIST. And she was amazing. What what, can you just explain a little bit of those assessments or what your role or what information you use? I’d love to hear more about that.


Elena Garuc  16:29

Yeah, so um, it’s, it’s full blown, because as an MEP center, cyber is just being pushed as you know, a need. But in addition to that, we also were funded through a grant through New York state that came from the department defense. As you know, a lot of the cybersecurity requirements are really being driven by that agency now, and it’s expected to expand, where there’s actually requirements being put on suppliers that are part of the DLT supply chain where you, you know, have to have your NIST, I would have to look this up, because I get the codes Rob, sp 800, dash 171.

They’re coming out now with the cmmc, which we’re trying to get companies, which is the cybersec Maturity Model certification. So our role is we create a cohort, we’re getting these companies, the assessments they need, we’re working with our cybersecurity experts up in the Mohawk Valley MEP center. ame, is the name of the MEP center there, they’re the cybersecurity experts for New York State. And we’re trying to find funding companies to get these assessments and just take him to this step. So what they need to do, to make sure that they don’t lose any contracts with the Department of Defense.


Curt Anderson  17:39

Wow, that’s what a great what a phenomenal resource, and it’s so intimidating, you know, in so many manufacturers name, and we talked about this weekly, where that entrepreneur, you know, that that manufacturer needs to throw on a different hat throughout the entire day, you know, nine o’clock, or HR at 10 o’clock, their operations at 11 o’clock or finance 12 o’clock, maybe I have five minutes to do some marketing, you know, so like, you know, yeah, then going this whole cyber risk that they’ve never had to deal with in the past.

And it’s it just gets, you know, as we were, you know, we’re doing some programming with different entrepreneurs, manufacturers, you know, what we hear constantly, it’s just like, they’re in a silo, you know, they’re on their own, they don’t know where to go, they don’t know where to turn. And it’s just such a blessing, such a gift to have the MEP network, to have those trusted advisors. And so Lina, I want to slide into I had an honor and privilege of doing a program with you A month ago. And our friend Rachel Rosen was on a program.

And she’s just phenomenal startup manufacturer, Rochester, New York. And she was like, You know what, I went to that program, because it was the MEP, and I knew it was going to be good. And I trust their, their, their content or information. And it was well worth it. So again, I loved it. I thought we had a wonderful crowd. It was great feedback, so on so forth. Talk a little bit about the marketing. I know you have like a summer series marketing program that you’re putting out, talk, you know, a little bit about the marketing initiative that you guys have that you’re that you’re feeding manufacturing here in New York.


Elena Garuc  19:09

Sure. So, you know, for the last five years, we’ve been in startup mode, you know, because we we were formed in 2013. Just doing a lot of work creating programs. And part of a lot of the work that fuse hub does is marketing. I mean, that’s my background. It’s like helping manufacturers connect to resource Mark resources, marketing, New York State’s great assets, and then managing this million dollar fund. And so we took we said we kind of had an aha moment with all these companies that were coming to us and all these startups that needed marketing services. So we’re trying to build that out.

And come to find out a lot of MEPs around us are already far ahead of us with kind of creating some in house services and also partnering with some small marketing agencies to provide these boutique services but so we’re on that path. We have a lot of expertise.

I mean, I have probably three people on staff right now that have 20 plus years in marketing, and specifically helping manufacturing companies. So just to sort of kick that off, we’re doing this summer series, Kurt, you know, you’re, you’re one of our partners will kick off in July, it’s on our website. And we’re just really trying to get the word out there about the types of marketing that you should be looking at, and then trying to bring companies in to see if, you know, any of our expertise can help them along the way.


Curt Anderson  20:29

Yeah, that was great. And what I loved, you know, the program that you guys put together in May, that we did, and again, that was our dear friend, Kim Lloyd and yourself, and Steven Leto, you know, we’re kind of like that, do it with you concept and the feedback. It was just so wonderful because like, you know, we do a lot of webinars and they’re, they’re wonderful. And I know what I refer to our webinars, as you guys can tell, I get it like llenos I get Kurt, you talk with your hands. It’s I grew up with a bunch of Italian guys.

But you know, I get pretty worked up and fired up at webinars they did a couple this week, and then huge crowds were so excited, but I call myself I’m like that crazy uncle comes in and like get your kids I wound up feed them sugar, leave, and they’re like, okay, now what do I do with these crazy kids?

So like the webinar, you know, they come in, they’re like, Man, this was awesome. You got me fired up. But I just felt like I drink from a firehose, I still don’t know what to do. What I love what you guys did, it was a three hour workshop where we did breakouts, and then it was like, hands on. And so these folks could actually leave with tangible, you know, strategies that they could apply to their business. We had a great feedback afterwards. How are you seeing like, as far as like that, that transition from webinars to like more that workshop model? How, like, how did that come about? Or what are you hearing from your clients going that direction?


Elena Garuc  21:46

Yeah, I think, you know, the, you know, everybody says, so many webinars and everything, I think people are looking for more of a hands on experience. And until we could kind of do that in person, we’ve been moved to more of a workshop to go in the breakout room.

So you know, the experts can talk to the companies one on one. So they felt reason to show up, you know, I mean, let’s face it, we’ve all signed up for webinars and blew them off, I’m sure some people like, um, but you know, the workshops, I think, allow some more accountability, they I think they feel, you know, someone is responding to some of their needs, they get to ask questions to the speaker. So, you know, we just liked that format a little bit better. And if it was in person, that would be the model anyway.


Curt Anderson  22:25

Right, exactly. So again, so you guys do an amazing job. You’ve been here for a number of years, could you share? Like, do you have any just amazing success stories, like game changing with manufacturers, where you know, what the, what the MEP can do for manufacturers, any specific examples or success stories that you want to share?


Elena Garuc  22:44

Yeah, I didn’t want to share just an overall I could just find where I have it down here. I just want folks to understand if you’re not familiar with New York MVP, the kind of economic impacts that this program provides. And this is just for New York.

So in 2020, the work of the MEPs with New York State manufacturers resulted in over 6000 jobs, new and retained, and close to $1,994,000,000 in economic impacts, which, which include increased sales, new investments, and there’s one more cost savings for these companies. So the the impact is real. I have two quick success stories because we were just talking cyber, and the regional centers have really great success stories because their projects last longer.

They’re you know, several months, they kind of go in into the to the in the companies they become a part of the team. Ours are a little bit more shorter and sweeter, because we kind of make a connection or we find a resource and we see that blossom. But one we were just talking about cybersecurity. We work with a company pavilion in New York City through some of our programs, and they were able to keep a $500,000 DLD contract because of the cybersecurity effort that we gave them, otherwise, they would have lost it. So we actually have that on our way. We did a press release.

They gave us a nice testimonial. So thank you, Colin and his team at Pavilion. And then another one just recently was featured on the local news, tiny tots. They make disposable diapers. Our team has been working with the CEO for many years just trying to help her find certain contract manufacturers. The New York MEP recently funded them a $10,000 pp. loan for pp. Because they pivoted and they’re continuing to make gowns. And these gowns can be washed up to 3300 times excuse me, just to keep your costs for the hospital. So she was featured and they’re full blown and the money is being put to good use. So here’s those are the kinds of things that we try to do.


Curt Anderson  24:52

Isn’t that awesome? And I want to make sure I wrote this number down right. What was that number on impact? 994 million.


Damon Pistulka  25:00

Yeah, that’s cool. You know, from from running manufacturing businesses for most of my life, you know, I didn’t even realize that MEPs were around. And that’s it. Now, I mean, I just not one state, I’ve done six or seven states across the United States. And it’s, I mean, literally across United States, and I never even knew they were around.

And for manufacturers are listening, I think the one thing is, is find your local MEP, talk to them, like you said ahead of time, because then when something comes up, like you need money for maybe a lean improvement, or something changes, like you’re talking about the, and I won’t get it right, the cmmc or whatever the do D stuff that they got to do now, you know, it’s a big deal. If you’re, if that’s a if that’s a large part of your company, and there’s companies out there that may have been doing stuff for the D o t forever, and they have no idea what they need to do.

So they don’t know the resource, and then they’re not a huge company, so they probably don’t have the money to do it. Or even if they do have the money, why not try to see if you can get a grant to help fund what you’re doing to help offset some of the costs. I mean, I just think the Emmy peas, for the people listening, they really need to meet them, Go talk to them, figure out what the heck they’re good at and what they can help with, because they do have good resources that you can you can use.


Elena Garuc  26:21

Yeah, that’s what they like to call them. We call it the best kept secret, right? And I’m yeah, I think I’m actually on the mark the national MEP Marketing Committee, because, you know, they realize that the program is a wonderful program, but the way it’s structured, every every MEP program has a different name. And and it’s not always you want to know they’re an MEP program. So they kind of have to start at the top.

And we’re trying to position ourselves better as a network. And we’ve, we’re doing a great job. You know, we try to cross collaborate, I work with a lot of other states and vice versa. There’s a lot of platforms, you being used to really just kind of interconnect us and get more manufacturers through that that funnel.


Damon Pistulka  27:00

Yeah. Yeah, good.


Curt Anderson  27:02

And that’s, and that’s a great point, I hadn’t thought and again, because we work with quite a few in every state is different. So like, is at the University of Nebraska, Montana State is in the state of Montana is parked at my, my, in a State University. Some are nonprofits, I think Virginia is, you know, to the Commonwealth, every single one has a little different component or a different animal. And I hadn’t thought about that. So you said it. And so there is a little bit of a disconnect as far as like that. Universal, you know, overall, nationwide branding. And, and it’s funny, you’re saying that Atlanta, so is, you know, I talked a lot of different MEPs.

And for those of you out there, like Dan knows, you know, I have this little book out there, called stop being the best kept secret. And everybody I talked to the Emmy peas are like, man, we need to give our director your book, because we’d say that about ourselves all the time, we need to stop being the best kept secret. So you’re doing amazing job. And that’s what I like the fuse hub model and I and we talked about a little bit before Lana, where I feel like fuse hub is unique. I’m not familiar with many other states that have like that alone our own.

That’s, you know, marketing the state, you know, in that capacitive way fuse hub does, and then you partner with those regional. Now a lot of states a lot of our friends here, you know, Wisconsin or in the Midwest, I’m back in Illinois, where they have one MEP, but goes regional centers, but it’s under one umbrella. So I like I like how fuse hub goes out. And so then if somebody is in Buffalo, or all the way out on Long Island, they can tag team or work together in that capacity. Right?


Elena Garuc  28:34

Yeah, you know, and it’s good to for us, because we were able to track it, we try to have attractive additional funding to the state and approach. We like to roll out new programs initiatives, Dan’s been to a lot of our programming. And so just to be able to have that statewide approach, and we bring in the regional partners, and we don’t just stop at the VPS.

You know, we work with a lot of state funded assets, the universities, I think I taught I don’t know if I now I forget if I was talking to you before, before I said it like the r&d universities are a big part of our Resource Network. They’re actually some of our some of them are on our committees, just getting manufacturers to the right experts, other incubators and other kinds of accelerators and, you know, economic development program. So we have a very rich Resource Network. In addition to the


Curt Anderson  29:22

Yeah, that university network, you know, so in New York, we have the Sunita State University in New York, it’s a very prominent, you know, university network, Stony Brook is kind of cutting edge of a lot of technology and what have you. And what’s one thing and I know we’re coming into time here later on, one thing that I wanted to mention was one of the first things that I during COVID. Last summer, you guys did an amazing virtual event. And I’m going to be perfectly honest, it was more like one of my first virtual trade shows.

And you know, we’re in the heart of COVID and I was just I was a little bit skeptical and I went to it and I thought you guys absolutely crushed it. It was on this platform that run here Remo I met daymond I had the privilege of interviewing tressa Stockton from tack on Monday, I met tressa. I met Dan just talked about Carolyn Jaffa am and T that’s the Binghamton MEP. I met Carol and Jeff that day. So, talk a little bit about that versus how did that virtual trade show come about? And do you have plans? Or what’s your future with virtual events like that?


Elena Garuc  30:23

Yes. Well, we did, like 15 and 10 months ago, I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to. But yeah, we did a lot of matchmaking events, and it’s probably one trade show, like, our other events are, you know, meeting the resources. So it’s either b2b or, you know, manufacturer to resource. Um, we are going to go back to in person for those ones, but we are, we are going to still do a hybrid.

Our first in person will be August 11, in Central New York with the site, oh, I said, the to, which is such a New York MEP center, excuse me. Um, but we’re going to use Manufacturing Day and do a regional event, but we’re also gonna do a statewide event for the students who can’t travel. So I think, I think the COVID experience still allows us to use these platforms like remote that work well, um, but we’re kind of excited to get in person. So I don’t want to downplay the fact that we’re, you know, we’d like to take a little break for the online stuff as much as we can, but it’s still gonna be there.


Curt Anderson  31:21

So a good hybrid model. So last question we’ll leave you with So what, what’s the future for you? What’s the future for fuse hub? Like wouldn’t see on the horizon?


Elena Garuc  31:31

Well, you know, as we talked about, marketing is a big, it’s a passion of mine, it’s something that, you know, I really would love to continue to expand upon and grow and really help manufacturers in that area. And, you know, we are looking at our Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, how to grow and expand that funding for technology development, and new product is so limited. In, in the everyday world, you know, COVID, they had a lot of different grants and stuff out there, but just just funding that type of work. We just don’t find a lot of funding opportunities out there.

So the more that we can attract into that fund, the more companies we can kind of help move their technology forward, and then grow and expand in New York State or, you know, obviously, you know, benefit the US. So, those are some of the main things. The last thing I’ll mention is we’re having our New York State Innovation Summit in Verona, New York at the Turning Stone. So if you’re familiar with New York, it’s one of our casinos. In person. Last in 2019, we had over 500 people and 100 exhibitors, all companies that are New York State, so if you are in technology, or manufacturing, and you have any interest in New York State, come to that event.


Curt Anderson  32:37

Nice. All right, awesome, boy. This is wonderful. So as you know what as Damon knows, as a girl, Dad, I just I look up to you, lane, I admire you, it’s just you know, for a father of a young girl, it’s like you just you’ve paved the way for so many young women. You know, you’re breaking ceilings, you’re you’re an amazing leader, you’re doing a great job with few sub starting this basically from scratch and put out this amazing statewide program. So thank you for what you’ve done for our state our community.

Thank you for what you do for us guys with with teenage daughters that have you to look up to. So and and most importantly, thank you for taking time to join us today. It’s been just You’re really a gift. We appreciate you. And so thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today. Guys, thank you for joining us today. We wish everybody an amazing, amazing weekend. Go out there and just keep crushing it and manufacturing manufacturing crushing it with e commerce. Yeah. You’re me MP. Lena. Thank you. Any last words? Any last thoughts?


Elena Garuc  33:41

I know just thank you and it’s an honor and thank you for all those kind words. And you know thank you curtain to Damon for today’s time. I appreciate it. And I’ll be in the tables if anybody wants to ask me any questions or reach out to me directly.


Curt Anderson  33:54

Please stick around Damon take it away brother.


Damon Pistulka  33:57

All right. Well, Kurt laina awesome discussion today. People in the chat love it neon and others that are commenting on LinkedIn. So happy for that as well. I believe Kurt we’re taking next week off because we got an important holiday weekend coming Yeah.


Curt Anderson  34:14

We are taking a Friday off to celebrate our country’s you know little Fourth of July weekend and so we will not wait we’re coming back in two weeks. We have some amazing guests coming up. So I in guys I dropped Elena’s I dropped fuse hub and Elena’s LinkedIn profile and that in the chat please connect with Elena. We have a we have some great speakers coming up. We have Allison Levine coming up.

She’s a New York Times bestselling author. She’s Lana, you would love her. She led the first women’s team to ever climb Mount Everest. She’s climbed every the highest peak of every continent. And she’s written an amazing book. She has a great TED Talk. great leadership. As you know, she’s She was a professor at West Point. So she’s coming up in July. But again, we have people like Alina Come on our show and it’s just such a wonderful privilege. right in line with her trust me, so thank you. And please join us at the tables. We’re gonna have a chat with Elaine and we appreciate you guys.


Damon Pistulka  35:21

All right. Thanks so much Kurt and Lena. Once again, we’re going we’re shutting down on LinkedIn live here. But remember, we are here every Friday at 1030 to Pacific 130. Eastern. We’re on for about a half an hour we got great speakers like Elena, talking about manufacturing ecommerce and trying to help people grow their businesses run better businesses. So thanks. Thanks for listening to us on LinkedIn. We’re shutting down they’re going back to the tables here on Remo Thanks, guys.

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