More help will soon be on the way for small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
The State of Connecticut is looking to dole out tens of millions of dollars to those which have been hit especially hard.
Businesses – especially restaurants – are celebrating this step. They believe it will help keep hundreds of them open during the tough winter months ahead.
At Five Corners Bistro & Craft Bar in Farmington owner Christos Theodoropoulos says it’s been a challenging year.
“I don’t see us getting too much further without some help right now,” said Theodoropoulos.
And it’s become even more difficult recently with stricter state coronavirus reopening rules and the loss of outdoor dining.
“We would be grateful if we got anything at this point, anything that could help us out,” said Theodoropoulos.
Now he’s hoping a new state program might provide a boost.
“It's not going to be an application process. We're going to get those checks out to you as grants,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, D – Connecticut.
Lamont explained how $35 million will be sent to some small and mid-size businesses including restaurants, bars and hotels.
Grants would range from $10,000 to $30,000.
“We're looking at a combination of things to understand which businesses were hard hit year over year in terms of sales declines,” said David Lehman, Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner.
The state says it will consider wages, if possible, to get a size of the business and taxes being paid to make sure they’re currently open.
Lamont believes this would a bridge to more federal assistance which could soon be coming and many are counting on.
“I think would take us through this winter period and into the spring and hopefully things can change by then,” said Theodoropoulos.
It’s estimated the state grant program has enough money for up to 2,000 businesses.
The Conn. Restaurant Association's Executive Director released a statement saying in part:
“This additional funding for small businesses will help hundreds and hundreds of those restaurants keep their doors open and keep more of their workers employed during the difficult winter months ahead. The result will be that more restaurants will be ready and able to be part of Connecticut's economic recovery in 2021 as we finally begin moving beyond the pandemic.”
Checks could be going out in about 10 days.
Katie Hughes-Nelson, the owner of Perk on Main in Middletown, said any additional assistance would be helpful to small businesses.
“I think it sounds great. It’s really hard for small businesses to keep borrowing money just to maintain the status quo. It’s definitely a hardship,” Hughes-Nelson said.
But the owner of Perk on Main as well as Carmela’s on the Extension both applied for a previous grant from the state that was supposed to help small businesses and they have yet to hear about it or receive the money. It makes Carmela’s owner, Carmela Schiano, skeptical about a new grant that could help businesses in as little as 10 days.
“I haven’t heard anything back. So it sounds great when they say that they’re going to help, but who’s really getting it,” said Schiano.
The Department of Economic and Community Development said they received 18,000 applications for that prior grant. They are still reviewing those and plan to notify businesses if they’ve been rejected or accepted and will receive the money by December 30.