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Restructuring of Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program Included in State Bonding

  • Connecticut State Bond Commission approves millions of dollars in investments designed to spur small business growth
  • Includes $21 million to restructure the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Small Business Express program
  • Other allocations focus on community development and workforce training efforts

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut’s State Bond Commission has signed off on millions of dollars in investments designed to promote small business growth, community development, and workforce training. One of the largest allocations in this area will go toward restructuring the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Small Business Express program.

A total of $124 million is earmarked for economic development initiatives, ranging from a major community investment grant program to smaller allocations for individual projects.

“Investing in our communities through revitalization projects, workforce development training, and small business support is a key part of our plan to accelerate long-lasting and equitable economic development in Connecticut,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “These investments are aimed at creating thousands of new jobs, improving the vibrancy and quality of life in our communities, and making all corners of the state even more attractive for investment and opportunity.”

“These are smart investments in our businesses, workers, and communities that will create thousands of jobs and help build new economic vibrancy throughout the state,” said DECD Commissioner David Lehman. “This year we saw steady progress on several economic fronts and these strategic investments are good way to build on that economic momentum in 2022 and beyond.”

Small Business Express

The Small Business Express program will receive $21 million to assist with restructuring efforts, which were directed under legislation passed by the Connecticut General Assembly at this year’s session. The redesigned program aims to have DECD partner with other organizations to encourage private investment, capitalize on private sector expertise, and share credit risk.

The goals DECD has established for the program include creating sustainable sources of funding to stimulate small business formation and growth, expanding capital options for entrepreneurs whose higher risk credit profiles might disqualify them from traditional financing, and targeting investments to distressed municipalities as well as underserved entrepreneurs such as women, minorities, veterans, and those with disabilities. DECD says it will soon begin submitting a request for proposals for lending institutions and business organizations that can help the department meet these goals.

The bond request for the Small Business Express program states that its components include a revolving loan fund, a job creation incentive component with loans that are optionally deferred or forgiven based on attainment of job retention or creation goals, and a matching capital grant program. Grants in the last initiative are allocated based on the likelihood of applicants maintaining job growth.

Other investments

Other bonding includes $25 million for the Connecticut Communities Grant Challenge, which was established in October. This initiative aims to fund community revitalization projects, dedicating up to half the funds to distressed communities and creating at least 3,000 new jobs. Applications are being accepted through Jan. 14, and DECD will announce award recipients in mid-2022.

Another $25 million will go toward efforts to remediate brownfields in Connecticut and return them to productive use. DECD will begin accepting applications for these projects in the spring of 2022.

Other allocations include $6 million to support DECD’s economic development partners, $5 million to support and enhance CareerConneCT workforce training programs, and $4 million for HEDCO’s minority business loan program. Lehman said the minority business loan program typically offers loans of $50,000 to $100,000, so the funding will be capable of supporting about 53 loans.

Several individual projects are also slated to receive funding, including $13.6 million for the creation of 228 housing units and parking garage at Hartford’s Downtown Crossing project, $11 million for the redevelopment of Hartford Hilton to include residential units, $10 million for redevelopment of former Remington Arms Facility in Bridgeport, $2 million for the development of an office building at 101 College Street in New Haven, and $2 million for the remediation of RM Keating Historical Enterprise Park in Middletown to create a facility that will support startups.

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