“I didn’t furlough one person, let go anybody,” she said. “I’m proud that I was able to do that. I’m appreciative of the money I received because that was literally the thing that kept me up at night while this was going on.”
Connecticut was not alone in offering struggling small businesses no- or low-interest loans, or in some cases, grants. Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Washington, Utah and Pennsylvania came up with programs after the pandemic hit, while many cities, including San Francisco, Denver and Chicago, also offered loans to local businesses. Amounts have ranged from $3,000 to $100,000.
In Connecticut, records show 15.4% of the state’s loans went to minority-owned businesses and 27.6% were issued to women-owned businesses. Full repayment is required one year after receipt of the funds, but applicants can request a six-month extension.
While Lehman considers Connecticut’s program a success, it appears unlikely it will be resurrected, despite calls for more help. He contends small businesses would benefit much more from another round of funding for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program that was in the early stages of development when Connecticut announced its bridge loan program.
Lehman said Connecticut businesses fared well in the first PPP round, with 64,629 receiving a total of $6.7 billion in forgivable loans, averaging $104,000 per loan. Additionally, 20,000 businesses received $1.4 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans offered by the Small Business Administration.