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March 16, 2020

CT small businesses now eligible for SBA emergency loans; $1M disaster relief fund announced

Photo | Contributed Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams addresses a crowd of nonprofit leaders.

Small businesses in Connecticut are now eligible for federal emergency loans of up to $2 million, and the Hartford Foundation has launched a $1 million fund to respond to the needs of Greater Hartford residents impacted by the COVID-19 virus crisis.

The announcements came during a teleconference Monday afternoon hosted by the MetroHartford Alliance, which included representatives from the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

Gov. Ned Lamont on Sunday submitted a request to the U.S. Small Business Administration, asking the federal agency to issue a declaration that will enable small business owners in the state to receive economic injury disaster loans. 

The loan program falls under the purview of the SBA, and became available to Connecticut businesses just before 2 p.m. today, when the state was declared a federal state of disaster, said Moraima Gutierrez, a local SBA spokeswoman.

"Now we can go ahead and tell our small business owners that they can go online and apply for SBA economic injury disaster loans," Gutierrez said. 

Businesses that qualify may apply for loans of up to $2 million, she said, and have interest rates of 3.75%, with payment plans that can be stretched as far as 30 years. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%. Only businesses without access to credit elsewhere are eligible for the disaster loans. 

Additionally, Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams announced the foundation, along with the United Way, is activating the Greater Hartford Covid-19 Response Fund, which the Hartford Foundation seeded with $1 million. Corporate donors and individuals may donate to the fund as well.

"This disaster response fund represents and reflects a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners that have joined together to create this mechanism," Williams said

The fund will rapidly release funds to community-based organizations responding to the medical and economic issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak in Greater Hartford, he said.

Additionally, DECD Deputy Commissioner Glendowlyn Thames said her agency is working with legislators on a broad aid package for businesses and individuals affected by the virus.

"We're moving into some more short-term [solutions] that are going to be part of this more comprehensive economic recovery package," Thames said. "[There] will be more on that to come in the coming days."

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