The state Department of Economic and Community Development is no longer accepting applications for its small business coronavirus relief loan program.

DECD closed the applications process for the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program at 6 pm March 27, less than 48 hours after launching it.

More than 4,000 small businesses applied for the program, which offered loans up to $75,000 at no-interest to eligible employers with less than 100 employers.

The state also doubled the size of the fund to $50 million to address demand.

"We feel it is prudent to hit pause and stop taking more applications right now to ensure we can process the current queue efficiently and get this much needed money out the door as quickly as possible," DECD commissioner David Lehman said.

"We want to be fair to all applicants and taking more requests would not be right."

'Day by Day'

CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said he was not surprised by the demand for relief, saying that "many small businesses are hanging on day by day."

"It just shows the gravity of the situation, the number of small businesses that have been impacted by the drastic slowdown in our economy," Brennan told the CT Mirror.

"There are businesses that haven't had any revenue in weeks now."

CBIA's Joe Brennan

"We're certainly hopeful that the state can marshal whatever resources that it can.

"There are businesses that haven't had any revenue in weeks now. Every day it's growing exponentially, the number of companies that are severely impacted."

Federal Relief

Lehman noted that the U.S. House today followed the Senate and passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes $377 billion for employers with less than 500 employees.

The Small Business Administration will distribute $350 billion—up to $10 million per company—through a dedicated loan program.

Connecticut small businesses are currently eligible for 30-year emergency relief SBA loans of up to $2 million at 3.75%.

Lehman said DECD will continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on Connecticut small businesses.

"We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep in close contact with our small business and nonprofit partners as they grapple with the effects of this pandemic on their operations and employees," he said.

The state has a hotline (860.500.2333) and email address to field small business questions about the program.