State helping small businesses expand

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Dannel Malloy says times are changing in Connecticut. While the state is facing a budget crisis and inevitable state employee layoffs, Malloy says growth in other areas are a sign that government efforts to improve the economy are working.

In 2011, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community develop began a program called the Small Business Express. It’s a program aimed at granting small businesses low interest loans and grants to help them grow. Today, Malloy announced that the program has hit a milestone, having now helped 1,500 companies statewide.

“I think there are hot industries and there are hot places and we need to build on those strengths,” said Malloy.

One of the companies benefiting from the program is Square 9 Softworks based in New Haven. Back in 2006, founder Stephen Young says he and two others worked at a table in a local coffee shop. Now, with the help of a $350,000 loan, their company has grown to 51 employees in a 30,000 square-foot renovated space on Church Street.

“We had no choice but to expand to a larger facility so by getting the DECD funding, that allowed us to begin this and start using working capital to create new jobs,” said Young.

By next year, Square 9 hopes to have more than 70 employees.

“If we bring 70 jobs to downtown New Haven, they’re not only working for us, they’re going out, they’re eating in the local restaurants, they’re staying in hotels. They’re supporting the shops down here,” said Young.

It’s a win-win for everybody. The state earns interest on those loans and gets tax dollars from those new employees.

City of New Haven Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson says he hopes other small businesses can learn from Square 9’s success.

“A lot of large companies in America today were small businesses only 5 or 10 years ago. So, the impact of small business is they can grow from 1 to 100 but they can grow from 1 to 100 and I think somebody like this could be,” said Nemerson.

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