When a survey of family owned businesses last year found almost two-thirds of respondents projecting sales and revenue growth in 2013, it appeared that optimism was on the upswing. This weeks’ news from Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) on the progress of the state’s Small Business Express Program, launched a year ago, may be a contributing factor. The Small Business Express Program (SBEP) supports the retention and growth of small business in Connecticut through a combination of loans and grants. SBEP incorporates a stream-lined process that provides financial assistance in the form of revolving loan funds, job creation incentives; and matching grants. The program is designed to provide small business with access to capital, support job creation, increase skill development and encourage private investment. SBEP loans and grants are intended to have a positive impact on the growth of the companies receiving the funds, and correspondingly on Connecticut’s overall economy.
Slightly more than 1,607 businesses with 100 or fewer employees applied for loans or matching grants in the program's first year, according to state officials. DECD approved just over half of the applications, and the program is currently helping about 500 small businesses retain 4,616 jobs and to create another 1,738.
The DECD authorized $67.2 million in financing to 494 companies through Dec. 31 -- $27.5 million in loans and $39.7 million in grants. It has already received $412,130 in principal and interest payments. State officials are reviewing applications from another 271 businesses, for an additional $38.3 million.
Components of the program include:
- Small Business Express Revolving Loan Fund - Loans are available at a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $100,000 to assist small businesses with capital and operational needs.
- Small Business Job Creation Incentive Program - Deferred Loans are available at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $250,000 to assist small businesses to spur growth. DECD may forgive all or part of loan based on the attainment of job creation goals.
- Small Business Creation Matching Grant Program - Grants are available at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000 to provide a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for specific job creation, capital investment and working capital goals.
The SBEP program assistance has leveraged approximately $40 million in private investment, according to DECD figures. Some participating business owners have noted that banks became more willing to lend once the business is accepted into the program.