Small Business Assistance
Statewide, Connecticut's small businesses constitute a whopping 97% of employers, and together they employ nearly half the private-sector workforce. I'd like to direct small businesses in my district to a variety of resources to help them help our economy grow.
You are no doubt familiar with the Small Business Administration. The SBA website is a clearinghouse for information relevant to American small businesses. Whether you're starting a businesses, looking for advice, or seeking funding, the SBA site is informative and user-friendly. This introductory video gives you an overview of what you can find at sba.gov.
You can find SBA information specific to Connecticut at the page for Connecticut's district office.
SBIR and STTR
The SBA adminsters two programs, called Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), which award about $2 billion annually to small high-tech businesses. Both are focused on supporting research and development of new technologies; SBIR awards funding to small businesses alone, while STTR funds R&D partnerships between small firms and colleges or universities. Eleven federal agencies and departments participate, including the Department of Defense, the EPA, and the Department of Energy.
The Congressional Research Service provides updated "guidance and online procurement procedures for doing business with the federal government" which you can read here. You can also search a database of federal business opportunities at FedBizOpps.gov.
In our state, we also have the Connecticut Procurement Technical Assistance Program. CTPTAP provides "marketing and procurement assistance to Connecticut businesses interested in selling their goods or services to federal, state, or local governments."
SCORE is a non-profit organization with more than 350 chapters nationwide. It is "dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide" through its "network of 13,000+ volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge."
But SCORE began in 1964 as a mentoring organization, and that remains an enormous part of what they do. You can connect with a mentor in person or simply via email to get valuable advice.
There are three local SCORE offices, serving the small businesses of Southwestern Connecticut.
SCORE Fairfield County Chapter
Serving Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.
SCORE of Greater Bridgeport
Serving Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Oxford, Trumbull, and Shelton.
SCORE of Western Connecticut
Serving Redding and Ridgefield
In Connecticut, we have an additional resource to help small high-tech businesses — Connecticut Innovations. Launched in 1989 by the state legislature, CT Innovations is now self-supporting. Its mission is described on its website:
Connecticut Innovations provides strategic capital and operational insight to push the frontiers of high-tech industries such as energy, biotechnology, information technology, and photonics.
Over the years, CI has helped over 100 emerging companies research, develop, and market new products and services. This activity has attracted over $1 billion dollars in additional investments from private equity providers.
You can watch an introductory video about Connecticut Innovations, including testimonials from small business owners.
The Export-Import Bank
If your local business sells overseas, the Export-import Bank of the United States helps finance the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. Any small business exporter who has been exporting for a year or more is eligible for help from Ex-Im. The bank has a number of initiatives which "enable you to extend credit, access vital working capital, and provide term-financing to buyers" as well as "sleep better at night knowing that Ex-Im Bank's export credit insurance is protecting you against the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers."
Connie Justice is president of a New England exporter who found that Ex-Im was the perfect solution for her company to fulfill its important mission.
If you operate a small business (or are thinking about starting one!) in the fourth district, consider my local offices yet another resource to help you succeed. You can give us a call at any time.