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November 25, 2020

More than 18,000 apply for small-biz pandemic-relief grants

HBJ Photo | Sean Teehan Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman (center) and Gov. Ned Lamont.

More than 18,000 applications flooded in over the course of a week for one-time $5,000 small-business grants as part of COVID-19 relief, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

The application window opened Nov. 12 and closed Nov. 20. If each applicant were allocated $5,000, the total would be $90 million, almost twice the amount available for grants.

“We did anticipate high demand,” DECD spokesman Jim Watson said. 

The grant money comes from a $50 million allocation from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which taps into federal CARES Act funding. Of that pot, $25 million will go to businesses and nonprofits in towns and cities designated as economically distressed. 

Watson said that the DECD is still analyzing the data from applications and has not made any decisions beyond allocating the $25 million to distressed communities. 

The money does not need to be paid back and can be used for payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, inventory and reopening costs.

Businesses eligible for the grants must meet various requirements including having no more than 20 total full-time employees in 2019 across all of their Connecticut locations or a total 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million.

Businesses must also be planning to reopen and rehire any workers let go due to pandemic impact. 

Gov. Ned Lamont announced the grant program in October in response to pleas from the business community for additional pandemic help for struggling small businesses.

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