Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

December 22, 2021

Sen. Hartley, Gov. Lamont, and Rep. Currey Announce $25 Million in State Bonding for Small Business and Entrepreneur Assistance Program

State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Middlebury and Naugatuck) and State Representative Jeff Currey (D-East Hartford, Manchester, South Windsor), Co-Chairs of the Commerce Committee, welcomed the approval of $25 million by Governor Lamont and the State Bond Commission to replenish funding for the Small Business Express (SBE) program’s initiatives to support job creation and retention and minority-owned businesses in Connecticut. The significant investment comes several months after Sen. Hartley led legislative approval of improvements to the SBE that will strengthen its capabilities to support the state’s business community.

“In the new year, the Small Business Express program will continue to be an important tool to help businesses grow and create new jobs. This substantial funding empowers the program to remain an active partner in supporting businesses build up their operations, in turn boosting Connecticut’s economy,” said Sen. Hartley. “Thank you to Governor Lamont and the members of the State Bond Commission for recognizing the success of the program.”

“The Small Business Express program has been a successful initiative in Connecticut’s economic development toolkit to help local entrepreneurs, including woman and minorities, build their businesses and create jobs right here” said Governor Lamont. “Ensuring this program can continue operating means the continued growth of many small businesses in Connecticut.”

“The funding the State Bond Commission approved today to strengthen small business growth, create jobs, and aid our revitalization efforts will go a long way to as our communities and state recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19,” said Rep. Currey. “To better support our small businesses during these evolving circumstances, Senator Hartley and members of the Commerce Committee championed essential improvements to Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program so that small businesses can access the resources necessary for recovery and spur additional economic growth. This is a critical investment in our small businesses, which are the backbone of our local and state economies.”

The $25 million total in funding is allocated into two sections. First, $21 million to refill the Small Business Express program’s general fund, which supports initiatives including:

  • A revolving loan fund offering loans to businesses to help them retain current full-time employees
  • The Job Creation Incentive Loan Program, which supports business-recipients scale up their operations, in addition to creating or retaining full-time jobs. The loans can be deferred or forgiven if the business is able to reach job creation goals
  • A matching capital grant program, which prioritizes distribution of grants based on how likely the business applicant will maintain job growth

The remaining $4 million is a grant-in-aid for HEDCO, Inc. targeted toward minority business initiatives under the SBE, namely, the Minority Business Revolving Loan Fund (MBRLF). The MBRLF is administered by HEDCO, Inc. The loan fund is dedicated to offering loans and lines of credit to women-owned and minority-owned businesses in Connecticut.

During the 2021 legislative session, Sen. Hartley championed passage of legislation to increase the financial investment tools at the SBE’s disposal to help businesses grow and to streamline the program. Improvements made include, but not limited to:

  • Expanding the types of financial support the program’s revolving loan fund can provide to include loan guarantees, loan portfolio guarantees, portfolio insurance, and grants
  • Increasing the highest amount a loan can be provided through minority business revolving loan funds to $500,000
  • Simplifying the maximum employment requirement to an eligible business has no more than 100 employees

More information on the SBE can be found here and about the senator’s enhancements to the program here.