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March 29, 2024

ConnCORP small business incubator lab and mentorship program gets $4M grant for expansion

Contributed U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) speaks at the ConnCORP Small Business Incubator Lab in Hamden, announcing a $4 million grant.

The ConnCORP Small Business Incubator Lab in Hamden is getting a boost in federal funding to continue supporting and promoting minority entrepreneurs and startups in Greater New Haven.

Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) this week announced $4 million in Congressionally directed spending for the small business and entrepreneurial incubator lab at the Connecticut Community Outreach Revitalization Program. 

The lab’s programming supports Black and minority-owned businesses in underserved areas of New Haven and Hamden at the startup and early growth stages. 

The funding is part of the appropriations package signed into law last week by President Joe Biden.

The funding will create additional incubator lab space on the now-vacant third floor of ConnCORP’s 43,000-square-foot building at Morse and Newhall streets.

The lab was launched in 2021, and is home to several small businesses that operate there while building a base and growing their clientele, including Winter Carson, owner of Blush Beauty and Wellness.

The funding will go toward building the new third-floor lab space and creating several private offices to rent, collaboration spaces and meeting areas for the entrepreneurial program, which helps small business owners with guidance on marketing, hiring staff, or applying for grants.

The incubator lab space is also offered at a much lower rate, $20-$26 per square foot, than traditional market-rate incubator lab space, which goes for around $36 per square foot, according to lab programming Director Jahkeeva Morgan.

She said that lower rate makes a significant difference for small business owners who are struggling to find affordable space, and who also benefit greatly from the mentorship support provided  by ConnCORP.

Morgan was joined Thursday at the lab space to announce the grant along with community members, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett and officials from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Murphy said the lab helps break down many of the early barriers to small business startup and ownership. 

“This gives a little bit of smart help to great risk-takers at the early stages of their ideas,” Murphy said.

Blumenthal said the lab has so far helped launch nearly 100 small businesses in Greater New Haven, and Morgan expects that number to at least double thanks to the new space.

She anticipates construction starting in early 2025.

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