Small businesses and nonprofits across Connecticut could receive a one-time $5,000 grant starting Nov. 9.
Glendowlyn Thames, deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic Community Development, announced the $50 million state program Tuesday at Lilly’s Soul Food in Windsor. Lilly’s is one of the many small businesses that have struggled financially during the pandemic and could access this help.
The program, funded by federal CARES Act dollars, aims to help 10,000 businesses across the state, especially those that couldn’t get assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. Half of the money will be allocated to businesses in distressed municipalities, which tend to have large Black and Latinx populations, said Thames. As of 2019, Connecticut had 25 municipalities that were considered distressed.
“These next couple weeks are very critical in this process … We are going to be doing intensive and significant outreach through webinars and other communications tactics to make sure everybody is on a level playing field,” Thames said.
Eligibility requirements include having 20 or fewer full-time employees in 2019 or $1.5 million in annualized payroll expenses. Businesses that have already received grant help from the state are not eligible.
Thames was also joined at the announcement of the program by Gov. Ned Lamont and U.S. Rep. John Larson, who helped secure the funds through the CARES Act. Lamont said the goal of the program is to be a bridge for small businesses and help the many women-owned and minority-owned businesses stay that way.
“I really hope that this is going to be a bridge. Not a bridge to nowhere, but a bridge to the back side of this pandemic,” Lamont said. “I think you all see what is going on around the rest of the country with the spike in numbers, and Connecticut is not an island to itself. We just got our latest in infection numbers and they are at 3 percent.”
This is the highest positivity rate in Connecticut since June and shows why businesses need the continued help, Lamont added.
However, the program is already facing opposition from the Connecticut Restaurant Association for offering less funding than neighboring states.
“How can it make sense for Connecticut to put a maximum of $5,000 on its small business grants when Maine is allowing up to $100K, New Hampshire up to $300K, and Vermont up to $350K?” Scott Dolch, the association’s executive director, said in a statement. “Not only that, but each of these states, while smaller in population, has a program that is larger in total dollars than Connecticut’s at $50 million.”
For more information on the program, businesses can visit business.ct.gov.