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What Changes Does the Budget Implementer Bill Make to Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program?

  • Budget implementer bill that passes Connecticut General Assembly includes significant changes to the Small Business Express program
  • Types of financial assistance expanded, funding priorities eliminated, and eligibility requirements updated
  • Cap on revolving loan fund for minority-owned businesses raised from $100,000 to $500,000

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Tucked into an 837-page budget implementer bill recently passed at a special session of the Connecticut General Assembly are a set of changes to the state’s Small Business Express program.

The Senate approved the bill in a 23-7 vote on June 9, and the House of Representatives amended and approved the measure in a 89-50 vote on Thursday. The Senate passed the amended version 20-6 later in the day.

Small Business Express, which is administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, was established in 2012 to provide financing options to small businesses. The changes include:

  • Capping the number of employees a participating business can have at 100, rather than requiring that the business employ 100 or fewer employees on at least 50 percent of its working days during the preceding 12 months
  • Eliminating a previous requirement that a participating company be registered to conduct business for at least one year
  • Setting the goals that the program be self-funded by July 1, 2026, and that the default rate among businesses receiving assistance not exceed 20 percent
  • Increasing the cap for a revolving loan fund for minority-owned businesses from $100,000 to $500,000
  • Expanding a separate revolving loan fund to provide not only loans but also loan guarantees, loan portfolio guarantees, portfolio insurance, and grants
  • Eliminating a funding preference for companies that create jobs, pursue exports to foreign markets, are located in designated innovation places, or are involved in certain fields including precision manufacturing, business services, green and sustainable technology, bioscience, and information technology
  • Permitting the DECD commissioner to bring on Connecticut Innovations, the state’s “strategic venture capital arm,” to establish and jointly administer a component of the program
  • Requiring the DECD commissioner to submit an annual report to the legislature on the program’s effectiveness every year rather than every six months
  • Including the default rate of businesses receiving assistance and the progress of participating lenders in making the program self-sustainable as part of this report

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