(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is creating the Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant Program to assist small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the economic downturn caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut that have fewer than twenty employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million with a one-time grant of $5,000.
To fund the program, the governor is committing $50 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which utilizes federal CARES Act funding. The program will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The grants can be used for payroll, rent, utilities, inventory, purchase of machinery or equipment, or costs associated with compliance of the ongoing Reopen Connecticut Business Sector Rules.
“When it comes to the economic impact of this ongoing, global pandemic, the smallest businesses have been hit the hardest, and I’ve spoken with so many owners who are doing their best to keep their workers employed and their businesses active during this incredibly challenging time,” Governor Lamont said. “This grant program will help provide some relief to these small businesses that are working each day to get through this. However, 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.”
The governor is directing DECD to commit half of the funds to small businesses and nonprofits that are located in towns and cities designated as distressed municipalities.
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.
“The Department of Economic and Community Development continues to be very strategic in how it distributes the limited dollars it has to assist as many small businesses as possible and those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DECD Deputy Commissioner Glendowlyn Thames said. “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. These grants can be a lifeline to them during this difficult period.”
Governor Lamont announced the creation of the state grant program during a news conference at Lilly’s Soul Food, a small business located in Windsor, where he was joined by Congressman John Larson.
“I’m honored to join the governor at Lilly’s Soul Food for the unveiling of this critical relief program for Connecticut small businesses,” Congressman Larson said. “This program is especially important because it will help businesses and non-profits with 20 or fewer employees that can sometimes be left behind. I’m proud to have helped secure this funding through the CARES Act. Programs like this are proof that more federal relief is needed. Earlier this month, the House passed the newest version of the Heroes Act. This legislation would provide the resources small businesses need to survive. The House of Representatives took action by passing these urgently needed relief packages. I applaud Governor Lamont for taking this additional action today. But, more federal relief is needed. It’s time for Senate Republicans to start taking this crisis seriously and do their job.”
The state’s previous program to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program, provided $41.8 million in loans to 2,122 companies across Connecticut. Similar to how that program was administered, DECD will partner with SoFi, whose advanced technology capabilities will help process the grant applications and distribution of funds in a timely fashion. SoFi, which has over one million members, is providing these third-party services pro bono to support Connecticut and this important COVID-19 relief program as part of its larger mission to help people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions.