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June 16, 2021

Implementer bill includes overhaul of Small Business Express program

Photo | CT Mirror The state Capitol.

Language included in the state’s budget implementer bill and approved by the Senate on Tuesday would overhaul Connecticut’s Small Business Express program, increasing access to capital for smaller enterprises and entrepreneurs and making new resources available through the state Department of Economic and Community Development and Connecticut Innovations.

According to Senate Democrats, the changes are meant to streamline and improve the program, which has channeled loans and grants to thousands of smaller-scale firms since its inception in 2012 under the administration of then-Gov. Dannel Malloy.

The new provisions would set a maximum employee count for applicants at 100 workers, remove the requirement that applicants be registered as a business for at least a year and expand the types of financial support the program’s revolving loan fund can provide to include loan guarantees, loan portfolio guarantees, portfolio insurance and grants. The implementer language would also increase the maximum amount available through minority-owned business revolving loan funds from $100,000 to $500,000.

DECD, with the input of Connecticut Innovations, would have the power to create and operate a new segment of the program that can offer financial support in alignment with the Connecticut Works Fund, which offers direct loans to eligible projects, and the Connecticut Capital Access Fund, which provides portfolio insurance to lenders in making loans that are somewhat riskier than conventional loans.

The bill sets a goal for the Small Business Express program of becoming self-funded by July 2026, with a default rate among aid recipients of no more than 20%. DECD would be required to keep track of the initiative’s progress toward that goal in its annual report.

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