In select cases, businesses can even receive matching grants of up to $100,000. "So if they want to buy a new piece of equipment or start expanding their facilities with capital improvements, they've got to have half the money and sometimes some of them can do that and sometimes they can't. So that sort of puts a limit on what kind of grants we can give," Smith said.
The goal was to get the loan process to a 30-day turnaround time from application to funding. Smith acknowledged they couldn't quite get it to 30 days. Turnaround time is roughly 45 days, she said.
Still, the state is being selective in companies that get funded. To date, about 36% of the 1,807 applications have been approved; another 36% were either denied or withdrawn. Four companies that were approved for funding went out of business, the department says.
The state has already made back $600,000 in interest on originated loans, Smith noted.
So who's taking the loans? The biggest percentages so far have been in specialty products and services, manufacturing and Main Street retailers.
One example is Sun Coffee Roasters in Plainville, Conn., which sells organic, environmentally friendly manufactured coffee.
"They are a classic example of a company that could not get access to capital," Smith said. "They're doing everything green in their roasting process and packing processes. They wanted to buy some new machinery. They wanted to buy American made. They were doing a lot of great things for the U.S. economy, but really couldn't get anybody to come up with any cash. He's hired one person already and he's planning to hire two, three or four more in the next year."
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York
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