Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state of Connecticut will reinstate the Small Town Economic Assitance Program (STEAP) to provide support to towns facing financial hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
STEAP is a state initiative that funds infrastructure improvement projects for towns that are otherwise not eligible to receive urban action bonds.
Lamont said the state plans to provide $15 million to eligible towns across the state.
“Simply put, some of our small towns need to modernize their infrastructure so that we can support efforts to grow the economy but lack the property tax base they need to fully fund these projects on their own," Lamont said. "The state can and should do what we can to help with these costs, as these small towns drive tourism, honor our deep and celebrated history, and provide us with family-friendly getaways that are part of the New England experience.”
Lamont said he will also be implementing a special COVID-19 provision that will support towns with spending related to the coronavirus response including new construction, expansion, renovation or replacement for existing facilities.
“Connecticut’s small towns are an important part of Connecticut’s overall economic competitiveness and quality of life. By helping to revitalize main streets and downtowns, the STEAP program has helped nurture the growth of small businesses in our communities, including retail stores, art galleries, museums, theaters, restaurants and cafes. The program has also assisted towns in preserving historic buildings and in addressing housing and social service needs in their communities,” said Betsy Gara, executive director of COST.
STEAP grants can only be used for capital projects. The grant program has not been active since 2016, according to Lamont.
The state can provide support for this program through bonding authorization in Public Act 20-1 along with other existing authorizations, Lamont said.
Towns selected for the grant program will have to implement a contract with the state agency assigned to administer their grant before any costs are incurred.
The application period for this grant will begin on July 13 with a deadline of Aug. 14. For more information about the grant, click here.