Connecticut is making $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funds available to small businesses that have been impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic, providing one-time grants of $5,000 to 10,000 employers.
Half the $50 million will be allocated to businesses located in economically distressed communities in Connecticut, both urban and rural.
“So many of our small businesses have been struggling for months to protect their businesses, their livelihoods as well as our employees,” said Glendowlyn Thames, deputy commissioner at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. “This has not been lost on this administration. Small businesses are truly our heart and soul of the economy and our communities.”
The grants will be targeted to businesses with no more than $1.5 million in annualized payroll expenses or fewer than 20 employees. They must be able to demonstrate a 20% or more revenue loss as of Sept. 20, compared to Sept. 20, 2019.
DECD estimates it will begin accepting online applications the week of November 9, and all of the funds are anticipated to be disbursed by December 30. Information on eligibility requirements, upcoming webinars, and other aspects of the program will be published on the state’s business portal at business.ct.gov.
Thames said about 50,000 businesses, which employ 350,000 people across Connecticut, could potentially be eligible. Many of those were unable to access funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
This is the second large-scale effort by the state of Connecticut to help small businesses. During the early days of the pandemic, DECD created an emergency loan program from scratch, which ultimately funded 2,123 one-year, no-interest loans, averaging $19,705 a piece.
Because of the massive flood of applications, officials decided to cap loan amounts at $37,500 — half of the $75,000 originally promised when the program was launched in March — to help twice the number of businesses.
State Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, co-chairperson of the General Assembly’s Commerce Committee, said it’s important for the state to now offer small businesses a grant program instead of more loans because they can’t afford to take on more debt.
Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said while the funding announced Tuesday is welcome, it “falls clearly short of what other states are doing.”
The maximum grant per business in Rhode Island is $30,000; $20,000 in New Jersey; $100,000 in Delaware; $350,000 in New Hampshire; and $100,000 in Vermont. In Massachusetts, $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds have been set aside but the final grant amounts have not yet been determined.
“We hope this is just a first step to match what other states are doing to keep small businesses open,” said Dolch, noting that most states are allowing businesses with up to 50 full-time employees or more to apply for grant funding.