In order to encourage job creation, growth and retention in Connecticut, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has developed a program called the Small Business Express Program to provide grants and loans to small businesses which meet certain criteria. The grant portion of the program has generated the most interest among our firm’s clients, and some have received grant funds to buy equipment. The grants are matching, which means the small business must be able to provide a dollar for dollar match to the grant from DECD. These grants vary from $10,000 to a maximum of $100,000.
To qualify for these grants, the small business must create new full time jobs within 12 months of receiving the grant. These new jobs need to be retained for a period not less than 24 months. The DECD defines jobs as full time positions in which an employee receives a W-2. The wages must be reported to the CT. Dept. of Labor on the employer’s Quarterly UC-2/UC-5. Due to this requirement, often business owners do not qualify.
To be eligible for the Matching Grant Program, a business must employ no more than 100 employees and operate in Connecticut. The business must have been registered to conduct business for at least 12 months and be current on all state and local tax obligations. Priority consideration is given for eligible applicants who are creating new jobs and whose business will materially contribute to the economy of the state by exporting products or services out of state or enhancing existing activities such as precision manufacturing, bioscience, information technology and green and sustainable technology.
The grant funds may be used for: working capital specifically for job growth; costs to relocate to CT; continuation of or new job training; purchase of machinery and equipment; construction or leasehold improvements. It is important that businesses do not commit to any of the above before applying for the grant since this could result in rejection of the grant application.
The DECD has streamlined the application process to make it more user-friendly and has resources to assist applicants who are not familiar with any of the application requirements. Further information in addition to all application forms can be found on the DECD’s website: http://www.ct.gov/ecd/lib/ecd/Small_Business_Express_slipsheet.pdf
Written by Eileen Garufi