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October 15, 2020

CT biz want $70M state grant program to stay afloat amid pandemic

Photo | HBJ File The Connecticut State Capitol.

A coalition of the state’s largest business groups representing a diverse set of industries submitted a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders Thursday asking for the creation of a $70-million grant program to help small businesses being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The groups -- led by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, Hartford Chamber of Commerce, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Restaurant Association and National Federation of Independent Business -- say the funding would provide a lifeline to thousands of local businesses that are struggling to remain open right now.

The coalition suggested the state use any leftover money from March’s CARES Act stimulus bill, which was passed by Congress and sent nearly $1.4 billion to Connecticut.

“It is our understanding that while much of this funding has been allocated or earmarked, hundreds of millions of unallocated dollars remain,” the letter said. “The creation of a new small business grant program with $70 million in funding (approximately 5% of Connecticut’s total stimulus funding) would send a lifeline to thousands of local businesses that are struggling to remain open right now.”

The letter comes as many businesses remain frustrated with Congress’ inability to pass another round of stimulus funding. Nearly 60,000 Connecticut companies took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program when it was created as part of the CARES Act last spring. That program provided  $6.7 billion in potentially forgivable and low-interest loans to Connecticut companies. 

Connecticut, like most states, has faced significant economic shockwaves from the pandemic, even though it has done a relatively good job controlling the virus in recent months.

The state's $262.7 billion economy shrunk 31.1% in the second quarter of 2020 as coronavirus-related shut downs wreaked economic havoc on all 50 U.S. states during the three-month period, new data shows.

The state's decline in second quarter gross domestic product (GDP), or the market value of goods and services produced by labor and properties, adjusted for inflation, was just shy of the national average decrease of 31.4% from April 1 to June 30, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

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