Sen. Chris Murphy says North Branford business a model for innovation, growth

By:  Akaya McElveen
New Haven Register

NORTH BRANFORD >> U.S Sen. Chris Murphy visited Penn Globe, a lighting manufacturer company in town, Monday evening to discuss its upcoming security lighting project and to show his support for the women-owned company.

Penn Globe President Marcia Lafemina said the company recently has started using LED lighting, and has begun to file patents for putting security cameras inside its light fixtures.

Lafemina said the next step for the company is to put motion sensors inside light posts.

She said one of the biggest things she wants to emphasize is the company’s involvement and participation in the Global Cities Team Challenge.

The objective of the challenge is “to help communities around the world work together to address issues ranging from air quality to traffic management to emergency services coordination,” according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology website. Teams from all over the world will then “foster the spread of ‘smart cities’ that take advantage of networked technologies to better manage resources and improve quality of life.”

Lafemina said her team is the only team from Connecticut as far as they are aware of.

“We are going to be taking a job that we did in North Branford and we are going to retrofit three of those light fixtures, because it needs to be a municipal application. We are going to take three of those fixtures and put in the sensors with the LED platform and it will be a lot of exposure for the state of Connecticut,” Lafemina said.

The project, “Autonomous Notification and Data Collection System,” is a security system designed for municipalities, university campuses and other public spaces.

According to the owners of Penn Globe, the system is discretely installed in light posts that are equipped with 360-degree view mapping and recording, wireless network communications, motion detection, data storage, facial recognition and energy saving LED lighting platforms that would reduce utility rates.

Team members for this project includes Connecticut Innovations, Eye Lighting International, Remote Reality, Gateway Community College, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, Connected Development, Workforce Alliance, and other companies around the state.

“It’s fun to have a company like this in Connecticut that’s leading the world when it comes to sustainable lighting. They’re saving communities money and making them safer. I know there’s a lot of controversy around mounted cameras in cities, but to the extent that it’s a trend that’s building, we have a company in Connecticut that’s poised to take advantage of it,” Murphy said. “They’re also a company that shows the benefit of state economic development assistance. There are a lot of state grants that are going into building this small business into a powerhouse. It’s a reminder as to why the state needs to stay in the business of helping small companies grow.”

In terms of the fact Penn Globe is owned by women, Murphy and Gold believe there aren’t enough women-owned businesses, especially in the manufacturing field.

“It’s always a struggle to tell the story of women-owned small businesses. I wanted to come here and celebrate the success. There aren’t enough women in manufacturing. And we’ve got to tell the story of women who are leading manufacturing firms,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of girls who just don’t think they have a future in manufacturing and that’s just not the reality. We see this success that they’re having here at Penn Globe.”

Lindy Lee Gold, senior specialist in the Office of Business Development for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said she had been involved with the company for approximately 2½ years, and has been involved with the lighting project since its inception.

Gold also shared her support for the project and said, “I think it is a great response to all of our concerns for both homeland and personal security. And the fact that it’s really been fined tuned to be representative of the best of Connecticut technology.

“I am extremely hopeful that this is going to be the catalyst for explosive growth in this company,” Gold added.

Lafemina said in terms of government assistance, Penn Globe is asking for a $300,000 loan in addition to grant funding received in 2012.

“We’re going back to DECD and asking for — we already got the $100,000 grant in 2012 — we’re going back and asking for a $300,000 loan and we’ll ask for the continued support of the workforce alignment with the employment and subsidies along the way,” Lafemina said.

Future project include installations at Bullard Havens Technical High School, and the town of Newark, New Jersey.