Connecticut will set aside $50 million in federal funds to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced the grant program Oct. 20, just days after CBIA and dozens of other organizations called on the state to set aside funds from the federal CARES Act to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic.
Lamont said the grant program will provide a $5,000, one-time grant to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development will administer the program.
The $5,000 can be used for payroll, rent, utilities, inventory, costs associated with reopening under the state’s business sector rules, or to buy machinery or equipment.
Call for Congressional Action
While the $50 million was less than the $70 million business groups requested, Lamont said the state is doing the best with what it has.
“There is only so much that we have available for this program, and I urge Congress to reach a deal and adopt a much-needed relief package that will help give our economy a boost and speed up the recovery,” he said.
Eric Gjede, CBIA’s vice president of government affairs, thanked the Lamont administration for its quick response to the request.
“We truly appreciate them coming through to help the state's smallest businesses,” Gjede said.
“It’s our hope that this is a good first step in the right direction and not the last.”
CBIA and other organizations pointed out in their Oct. 15 letter to Lamont and state legislative leaders that Rhode Island earmarked $60 million of its federal coronavirus relief funds to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic and that New Jersey set aside $100 million.
Lamont directed the DECD to commit half the funds—$25 million—for small businesses and nonprofits located in municipalities designated as fiscally and economically distressed.
“Equity is always top of mind, and this program gives priority to helping those smaller businesses and nonprofits in the most underserved areas of our state, both urban and rural,” said deputy DECD commissioner Glendowlyn Thames.
DECD expects to begin accepting online applications the week of Nov. 9 with all the funds distributed by Dec. 30.
The state will post information on eligibility requirements, webinars, and other aspects of the program on its online business portal.
The state previously provided more than $41 million in bridge loans to 2,123 small businesses across the state, an average of about $20,000 each.
The state said the new grant program will be administered similarly to the bridge loan program.
The DECD said it will partner at no cost with SoFi, whose advanced technology will help process the grant applicants and distribute the funds.