The state has launched two new economic development grant programs designed to create jobs, strengthen cities and towns, and promote public-private partnerships.
The Innovation Corridor and the Connecticut Communities Challenge programs will be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, which will invest up to $200 million over the next five years.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced the competitive grant programs Oct. 18, saying "investing in our communities and high-growth industry sectors is a key part of our plan to accelerate long-lasting and equitable economic development in Connecticut."
The state is using federal COVID-19 relief funding for the programs, which earned legislative approval during this year's General Assembly.
Both initiatives are part of the Lamont administration's $750 million economic development strategy designed to attract matching private sector investment and create a projected 80,000 jobs over five years.
“This economic action plan is a unique and innovative way to maximize federal and state funding while including the private sector in the development of their respective sectors,” noted CBIA’s Ashley Zane said.
“These public-private partnerships target small businesses and communities that may have historically been overlooked and underserved despite the overwhelming potential for growth.”
DECD commissioner David Lehman said the $100 million Innovation Corridor initiative is targeting the creation of 15,000 jobs over five years in high-growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, data science, and insurance technology.
"Both programs encourage public-private partnerships that will foster collaboration at the local level and leverage state dollars, strengthening both the quality and the impact of the projects being submitted for consideration," he said.
Innovation Corridor Applications
The state is soliciting Innovation Corridor grant applications from cities and towns, working in collaboration with private sector or other public sector partners.
DECD will select at least two proposals, with preference given to proposals located in Opportunity Zones, Enterprise Zones, or any of the four Innovation Places (Hartford/East Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and southeastern Connecticut).
The agency will fund up to $50 million in capital for individual projects, representing no more than 20% of the overall cost of the project.
The deadline for Innovation Corridor applications is March 4, 2022, while notices of intent to apply must be submitted to DECD by Nov. 19, 2021. Awards will be announced in April or May 2022.
Communities Challenge Grant
The Connecticut Communities Challenge program will fund a variety of projects aimed at improving the “livability, vibrancy, and appeal of communities” across the state, with the objective of creating 3,000 new jobs.
Municipalities, economic development agencies, and regional councils of governments are eligible to be primary applicants for funding and can partner with other entities.
Projects must focus on essential infrastructure, affordable housing, transit development, or improvements in public spaces. Each project will receive between $1 million to $10 million in funding.
The administration will allocate at least half the total $100 million in funding to projects in distressed municipalities.
Applications are due Jan. 14. 2022 while notices of intent to apply must be filed by Dec. 3, 2021.
“Investing in urban areas will also help unlock a historically underutilized talent pool and only add to Connecticut's reputation for a highly skilled, highly productive workforce," CBIA's Zane said.
U.S. Commerce Grant
Connecticut was also among the first group of states awarded community support grants through the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Adminisitration.
Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress approved earlier this year, the Statewide Planning grants are designed to support economic development, climate change mitigation, and competitiveness projects.
Two dozen states were awarded $1 million each in EDA grants Oct. 21.
Other New England states also received first round funding, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island.