Hartford – The Senate Republican Caucus recently celebrated the bipartisan Senate passage of a bill that will establish CT FAST Funds and CT EDGE, two programs that will promote sustainable job growth and economic development in urban communities. The bill was passed by the Senate late last week and now heads to the CT House of Representatives.
The legislation, Senate Bill No. 961 An Act Concerning the Delivery and Targeting of Economic Assistance to Small Businesses, will establish two programs first proposed in the Senate Republicans’ Plan for Progress and Opportunity in Connecticut’s Cities. The programs will offer new opportunities for small business start-ups and reinvestment projects including special loans and tax credits available to urban areas.
“It’s time for Connecticut to recognize the strength of our state depends on the strength of our cities,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “Republicans put forward an urban plan earlier this year to start that conversation. We have worked collaboratively with legislators from both sides of the aisle to create a plan that recognizes the economic challenges faced in our cities, and empowers people to rise to those challenges and find success.”
“This legislation would increase accessibility, transparency and opportunities for new and growing businesses and redevelopment in our cities to spark job growth and economic progress,” said Senator Witkos (R-Canton), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore. “This is an important first step in mapping a new path to prosperity for Connecticut cities.”
“Both Republicans and Democrats sincerely care about our cities. This legislation is a tremendous effort on behalf of both caucuses to come together to build a foundation for a better future,” said Senator Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich), Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee.
The Senate Republican Caucus also thanked Senator Joan Hartley, Co-Chair of the Commerce Committee for her leadership. “I want to recognize the hard work of Sen. Hartley on this legislation and thank her for her commitment to working together and advancing this legislation,” said Sen. Fasano.
CT FAST Funds
The legislation makes multiple changes to the state’s Small Business Express Program to make loans more accessible to small startup companies in urban areas. The bill dedicates $5 million from the Small Business Express Program for CT FAST Funds, a loan program for “mom and pop” shops in Connecticut’s largest cities. The Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development would be responsible for establishing this loan program in conjunction with partnering community banks to incentivize local investments managed by private lenders. In addition, the new law would:
- Open Small Business Express program grants to start-up companies.
- Improve transparency at the DECD.
- Direct 7% of available funds from Small Business Express to regional economic development entities to add further capacity.
- Create the Office of Small Business Affairs within DECD to conduct outreach and identify people in cities that have been underserved by the current Express Program.
The bill also establishes CT EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) tax credits, a new component to the state’s Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment program. CT EDGE will provide investors and developers a tax credit for developing or converting existing vacant buildings in urban centers to affordable housing, mix use development or viable commercial/industrial space. The new program would be a faster process than the current UISR process as all applications would have to be approved by DECD within 90 days. The review process would also include an economic impact analysis to ensure all projects are viable and make sense for a specific community. These redevelopment tax credits would incentivize investors to take on projects that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
The bill must be voted on in the House of Representatives for final approval before the legislative session ends on June 3.