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October 20, 2020

State to launch new $50M small business grant program 

Glendowlyn Thames, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development

Businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees or a 2019 payroll of under $1.5 million will be eligible for one-time $5,000 grants under a new program announced by Gov. Ned Lamont today. 

The new Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant Program is designed to help small enterprises statewide that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and related downturn. The grants will be paid for with $50 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which utilizes federal CARES Act funding. 

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will administer the grants, which can be used for expenses including payroll, rent, utilities, inventory,  machinery or equipment purchases or the costs of compliance with state pandemic reopening regulations. Half of the funds are slated to go to companies located in towns and cities designated as distressed municipalities.

The launch of the new program comes less than a week after a coalition of the state’s largest business groups submitted a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont and legislative leaders asking for the creation of a $70-million grant program to help small businesses being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Lamont administration official said the grant program was in the works long before that letter become public.

“These grants can be a lifeline to [small businesses] during this difficult period,” said DECD Deputy Commissioner Glendowlyn Thames. “Equity is always top of mind, and this program gives priority to helping those smaller businesses and nonprofits in the most underserved areas of our state, both urban and rural.”

Online applications are scheduled to be accepted beginning the week of November 9, with all funds distributed by December 30. Visit the state’s business portal at for information on eligibility requirements and other details of the program. Online personal finance firm SoFi will process the grant applications as a pro bono service to the state. 

The state’s earlier pandemic-relief effort, the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program, distributed $41.8 million in loans to 2,122 companies across Connecticut.

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