Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

June 15, 2021

Improvements to the Small Business Express Program Approved by the Senate

State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Middlebury and Naugatuck), Senate Chair of the Commerce Committee, joined the Senate in approving a bill that will make several modifications to the Small Business Express program to increase flexibility in providing financial support to businesses and streamline the program’s functions.

“These improvements pivoting the Small Business Express program to greater collaborate, as opposed to compete, with the banking industry supports Connecticut increasing its investment in our small businesses,” said Sen. Hartley. “I’m thankful for the bipartisan support this update of the initial program has received throughout its development. It will allow the program to be more flexible in providing financial support to businesses and scale up that support.”

The Small Business Express program offers financial investment support to assist in the retention and growth of businesses in Connecticut. The program helps businesses with access to capital, support job creation, and encourage private investment.

Senate Bill 1202 would enact several modifications to the Small Business Express program including:

  • Adjusts the eligibility criteria to receive assistance under the program by simplifying the maximum employment requirement to the business has no more than 100 employees and removing the requirement that a business has to have been registered for at least a year
  • Expands the types of financial support the program’s revolving loan fund can provide to include loan guarantees, loan portfolio guarantees, portfolio insurance, and grants
  • Balances consideration of businesses to potentially receive funding by removing the requirement of prioritizing funding for businesses in certain job industries
  • Increasing the highest amount a loan can be provided through minority business revolving loan funds to $500,000

Additionally, the bill allows the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to create and operate, with input from Connecticut Innovations (CI), a new part of the Small Business Express program. This new part can offer financial support aligned with CI’s abilities and the purposes of the Connecticut Works Fund and Connecticut Capital Access Fund.

  • Connecticut Capital Access Fund – provides portfolio insurance to participating financial institutions to assist the lenders in making loans that are somewhat risker than conventional loans
  • Connecticut Works Fund – Offers direct loans to eligible projects and includes a loan guarantee program to motivate lenders to give additional credit on more favorable terms

Under the bill, DECD will make it a goal that the Small Business Express program be self-funded and have a default rate of 20% or below for small businesses receiving support by July 1, 2026.

DECD would be required to include available data on the default rate of small businesses that received support through the program and the progress of participating lenders to become self-sustaining in their annual department report and their report on the Small Business Express program.