Several initiatives in Connecticut’s jobs bill are aimed at jump-starting the state’s stalled economy by directly encouraging small businesses and overall development.

The Small Business Express Program (HB 6801, Sections 1-5) will provide loans, forgivable loans, and matching grants to DECD-approved small business applicants (50 or fewer employees) who create or retain jobs or otherwise stimulate the state’s economy.

A Subsidized Training and Employment Program (STEP) will augment the Express Program by subsidizing, for six months, a portion of a company’s wage payments to eligible employees.

Lawmakers expanded the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account (Section 18) passed last session to include 100 eligible small manufacturers. They also increased to $100,000 the amount in annual deposits that participating companies may place into a tax-deferred savings account for reinvestment in facilities, equipment, or workforce.

When funds are withdrawn, they will be taxed at a rate of 3.5% rather than the current personal income or corporate tax rate.

State officials have said that about 40 sites in Connecticut have met all major permitting issues necessary for business development. The new law requires the DECD to establish a pilot Shovel-Ready Certification Program (similar to “Build Now-NY”) under which these and other qualified sites may be officially certified for economic development. Construction will be able to begin rapidly once a prospective business decides to develop a facility there (Section 9).

Bonds of up to $1 million have been authorized to set up an electronic DECD business portal (Section 28) to serve as a one-stop web resource for businesses looking for help in navigating state bureaucracy.

First Five Plus” (Section 38) expands the Governor’s First Five program to provide state assistance to a total of 10 business development projects. While the eligibility requirements are unchanged, selection of the “next five” will favor out-of-state and foreign investment in Connecticut.

Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (Section 52) gets $125 million in bonding over five years to recapitalize its programs, including $15 million specifically for pre-seed financing for businesses developing new concepts and technologies. 

Grants to towns (Sections 78 & 79) to develop and improve their commercial centers, attract small businesses and promote their commercial viability will come from $10 million in bonding over two years to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM).