State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo (D-13th) on Wednesday voted for a bill that will increase by 60 percent Connecticut’s grants and loans to small businesses in the coming years.
Sen. Bartolomeo’s vote for Senate Bill 801 will allow a portion of state bonding already earmarked for a variety of business and regional development projects to be re-directed to Connecticut’s new Small Business Express (EXP) program.
As of January, EXP had already distributed more than $29 million to Connecticut small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, resulting in the creation or retention of 7,011 state jobs in manufacturing, retail, financial services, hospitality and tourism, construction, healthcare and other industries. The Rockfall Company in Meriden, CK Greenhouses in Cheshire, and ID Mail Systems in Middletown are just a few of the businesses that have received at least a quarter-million dollars in EXP grants or loans.
“We need to concentrate our economic development funds where they are most needed, and with the overwhelming demand on and success of the EXP program, this is going to create the most jobs in the shortest period of time,” Bartolomeo said. “I’m pleased we could pass this bill in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner so we can distribute these funds as quickly as possible to the small businesses that need them in order to to hire, expand and become more productive.”
The new bill shifts $60 million (of an estimated $200 million balance) in previously approved state bonding authorizations from the Manufacturing Assistance Act program to the EXP, thereby increasing available EXP funding from $100 million to $160 million.
Created in 1990, the Manufacturing Assistance Act provides grants, loans, loan guarantees, credit extensions and other types of financing to small and large businesses, nonprofit corporations, municipalities and regional planning organizations for a range of projects, including developing facilities, acquiring new machines and equipment, diversifying local and regional economies and supporting research and development.
Created in 2011, Small Business Express provides matching grants and deferrable or forgivable loans under a streamlined application process to Connecticut-based businesses with fewer than 100 employees and that meet other criteria. Grant and loan amounts range from $ 10,000 to $300,000; eligible businesses can use the funds to acquire machinery and equipment, construct facilities or make leasehold improvements, cover moving expenses, or meet working capital needs.