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February 27
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: DAVID MARTIN, FAMILY VISION DEVELOPMENT CENTER premium

DavidMartinDr. David Martin knows that vision plays a significant role in human development and learning and that detection of vision problems must start at an early age. In 2010, he established Family Vision Development Center, which provides vision therapy and neuro-developmental vision rehabilitation in Aurora, Illinois. His practice specializes in providing eye care for children who exhibit developmental lapses due to vision problems as well as people in need of eye care therapy as a result of sports-related injuries and trauma.

“There is a significant need for these services
in the community I serve. Because of this, I
can give back and support the local
community and businesses.”
~ David Martin

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February 25
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: CHANDLER BOLT, SELF-PUBLISHING SCHOOL premium

ChandlerChandler Bolt is a five-time bestselling author and business owner with an unconventional background. He’s been an entrepreneur since he was a young boy, selling his personal snacks for a profit at Boy Scout Camp. As a teen, he started a landscaping and pressure washing business where he employed friends for summer jobs. As a Business Administration student in his home state of South Carolina, Chandler worked for Student Painters, a student led company. He developed and managed his own team and earned more than $100,000 in revenue in less than a year. His savvy methods were noticed, and he was awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year,” as well as “Marketer of the Year” and his team earned the “Top Quality Award” for the entire company.

“Helping people never gets old.”
~ Chandler Bolt

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February 22
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: BRETT WEISS, SAN DIEGO premium

ScandiegoFor people who own boxes of old photos, home movies, and slides that became inaccessible in the digital age, Brett Weiss can help. Weiss, owner of ScanDiego in San Diego, provides digitalization services for a variety of print media so people can revive their old memories in a new format to enjoy for years to come. Brett’s vision for his company is to embrace the future while honoring the past.

After more than 20 years as an entrepreneur in diverse industries including dry cleaning and importing, Brett worked at a scanning company when he was inspired to start his own business, which became ScanDiego. As his business grew and he needed to rent a bigger space, a local bank introduced Brett to Accion and he received a $50,000 loan.

The loan was made possible with support from The Hartford through its Communities with HART program, which supports entrepreneurs like Brett …

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February 21
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: ANDRE KREFT, SAVOR FINE FOODS premium

AndreKreftAndre Kreft lived and worked as a visual artist in Oakland, California for most of his career. He moved back to his native Waterbury, Connecticut after he began losing his sight and learning his mother was ill and in need of support. After losing both his mother and his partner to cancer within a short time period, Andre felt he needed to do something he loved and started his second act as an entrepreneur to help him work through that difficult time nearly six years ago. It was then that he decided to tap into his passion for baking and start his cookie company, Savor Fine Foods.

“I would not be who I am
if it were not for those around me.”
~ Andre Kreft

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February 19
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: MARIEL COTA, SAN DIEGO FLOWER SOLUTIONS premium

SanDiegoFlowerSolutionsMariel Cota began her journey toward becoming a successful entrepreneur 18 years ago when she started a home-based flower and balloon arrangement business in Mexico to help her neighbors celebrate festive occasions like quinceaneras and weddings. Surviving domestic abuse and becoming a mentor for other victims has made her much more than an entrepreneur however, providing her with a passion and purpose to help others in her community.…

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February 17
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: MELISSA AND JOSEPH BASILONE, THRIFT & THRIVE, INC. premium

Thrift&ThriveAfter seeing an economic downfall in their Portage Park, Chicago neighborhood in 2011, Joseph and Melissa Basilone opened Thrift & Thrive, a resale shop that provides the community with access to a curated selection of high quality goods at affordable prices. The couple feels that by reusing and recycling, people have an opportunity to decrease their spending, have a greater appreciation for their possessions, and in general have a tendency to thrive. The majority of the shop’s merchandise comes from the very neighborhood it goes back to, increasing prosperity while decreasing landfill waste.

“We are absolutely ‘all-in’ when it comes to
revitalizing our neighborhood.”
~ Joseph Basilone

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February 15
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: NELSON PIZARRO AND NELSON PIZARRO JR., ECOSTATIC premium

EcostaticNelson Pizarro founded EcoStatic, Inc in 2012 with his children to create an eco-friendly alternative to sticky notes. They invented “slickynotes,” described as double-sided writing surfaces that come in a variety of sizes. EcoStatic developed a unique technology that gives their slickynotes an electrostatic charge that allows them to stick on surfaces instead of glue. Slickynotes are made of 100% recyclable materials and writing on them with dry erase markers makes them reusable. The notes attach to any flat surface and can be moved easily without losing their ability to stick. EcoStatic also produces a product called “slickyboard.” This larger white board made from the same materials as slickynotes adheres to any smooth service. Companies frequently use the product as a project management tool.

“Even if we haven’t made it yet,
we believe strongly in giving back as a company.”
~ Nelson Pizarro

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February 13
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: SHANNELLE ARMSTRONG-FOWLER, HAUTE & CO BRIDAL BOUTIQUE premium

ShannelleArmstrongFowler

As an accomplished public relations executive in the retail industry, Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler spent much of her career keeping her finger on the pulse of fashion trends. While working as a public relations director for Sears Holdings in Chicago, she recognized a void in the market to serve women with fuller figures seeking luxury wedding dresses. The options available were largely limited to big box stores or little known online retailers.

“Every bride deserves to feel special on her wedding day.”
~ Shannelle Armstrong-Fowler

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February 11
COMMUNITIES WITH HART: SOPHIE PHILLIPS, SPROCKET & STONE, LLC premium
Sophie Phillips, Sprocket & Stone, LLC
Pet art created by Sophie Phillips, owner of Sprocket & Stone in Chicago

Sophie Phillips loves the diversity and small town feel of her Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago. After working as a dog walker for several years, she identified the need for a decent neighborhood pet store to offer high quality products and services for pet lovers.

“I’m happy to offer our community
a place where they can find healthier
alternatives for their pets.”
~ Sophie Phillips

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November 24
THANK YOU TO EMPLOYEES OF THE HARTFORD FOR THEIR ANNUAL GIVING CONTRIBUTIONS premium

Accion would like to thank the dozens of employees at The Hartford who chose to donate to Accion as part of their 2015 annual giving campaign. Their support will go a long way in helping us continue to support the capital needs of small business owners across the country. Since 2014, Accion has an ongoing partnership with The Hartford through its Communities with HART Program, which helps neighborhood businesses thrive and supports Accion lending and financial education events in several markets. This support from The Hartford has helped us provide loans to businesses that are having positive impacts in their community, including Nick Romero of Rawknykz Barber Shop in San Diego; Nicole Vasquez of the Shift co-working space in Chicago; and Ponce Conaway of PL Logistics courier service in New Britain, Connecticut; among many others. To read about the other Accion clients who have benefited from The Hartford’s support, please

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