The state will provide $2 million to support minority contractors through the Hartford Economic Development Corporation, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced.
"Connecticut's small businesses are the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation, and minority-owned businesses play a vital role," Malloy said in a statement. "As the construction industry recovers, it is important that we have programs and funding in place that ensure minority contractors have opportunities to bid and win contracts and play a more active role in the state's economic resurgence."
By Connecticut law, 25 percent of funding allocated for public building projects, highway construction, and the purchase of goods and services must go to small businesses, and of that 6.25 percent must go to minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, or disadvantaged businesses with a net worth less than $750,000.
The grant award, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, will help HEDCo implement a Minority Business Enterprise Assistance Program, designed to help such businesses in the Hartford area obtain surety bonds -- including bid, performance and payment bonds -- for capital construction.
In addition, the program provides a revolving loan fund to assist minority contractors with working capital to cover costs incurred while awaiting payment during the construction phase of projects.
HEDCo already administers a similar bonding guaranty program that was created in 2006. Under the program, 110 bonds totaling $12.4 million have been guaranteed, with only one default.
"According to the latest data, 12 percent of the state's businesses are minority-owned and the health of our economy will depend on these businesses having the same opportunities to succeed as others," DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said. "By supporting local economic development organizations this way, we are broadening participation in public works projects and ensuring a more fair, competitive bidding process that will lower costs for the state."
HEDCo is a nonprofit that provides technical assistance, loan packaging, regulatory assistance, locational assistance and problem-solving services at no cost to businesses in Hartford.
"I am happy that the governor and DECD have decided to fund a program like this in Hartford," state Rep. Douglas McCrory (D-Hartford) said. "It makes sense that Hartford's minority businesses would be given priority in a city like ours. It's about time this happened."
"I commend our governor for prioritizing this important program to support minority business owners," state Rep. Angel Arce (D-Hartford) said. "Our small business entrepreneurs have demonstrated their commitment to invest in our communities and this program will further their opportunities to expand their ability to grow and participate in this process."
"Hartford's minority-owned businesses stand to greatly benefit from this funding and priority," state Rep. Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said. "Small businesses are struggling all over the state, including many in Hartford. Because of this grant, the Hartford Economic Development Corporation is in a unique position to help these businesses."
"Hartford has been prospering with many new minority owned businesses and they have historically benefited from the work of HEDCo," state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford) said. "I thank governor Malloy for making this investment that will increase access for more minorities that want to participate in the system."