Small Business Assistance
Statewide, Connecticut's small businesses constitute a whopping 97% of employers, and together they employ nearly half the private-sector workforce. We have a variety of resources available in the Fourth District to help our small businesses and to help our economy grow.
A great place to start is 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.
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.
You can 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.
111 East Aven in Norwalk, CT
SCORE of Greater Bridgeport
Serving Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Oxford, Trumbull, and Shelton.
SCORE of Western Connecticut
Serving Redding and Ridgefield
Connecticut Small Business Development Center
The Connecticut Small Business Development Center offers expert assistance at no cost to entrepreneurs and small business owners and helps Connecticut's businesses start, grow and thrive.
Their office is located at the Bridgeport Regional Business Council at 10 Middle Street, Suite 1401 in Bridgeport. They can be reached at 860-576-0641 or via their website.
Women's Business Development Council
The Women’s Business Development Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing the tools and resources to help women thrive in business.
They are located at 184 Bedford Street, Suite 201 in Stamford, CT.
Connecticut Minority Business Initiative
Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development developed the Minority Business Initiative (MBI). This initiative focuses on enhancing access to the support minority-owned businesses need to thrive and grow in three key areas: business training and tools, public and private financing and government contract opportunities.
Call 844-257-9503 for more information or visit their website.
Spanish American Merchants Association
The Spanish American Merchants Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Connecticut that serves as a vehicle for the economic growth of businesses. SAMA was created to assist business people, in particular Latinos, to acquire a better understanding of economic principles. Technical assistance is provided to promote business expansion, job creation and new entrepreneurship.
City of Bridgeport Small & Minority Business Enterprise
Specifically for the City of Bridgeport, the Small & Minority Business Enterprise provides the resources and information small, minority, and women-owned businesses need to compete for business opportunities with the City of Bridgeport.
Contracting opportunities for the Small & Minority Business Enterprise are available on the City of Bridgeport's website.
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.
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.
Connecticut Procurement Technical Assistance Center
CT PTAC's mission is to provide marketing and procurement assistance to Connecticut businesses interested in selling their goods or services to federal, state or local governments. CT PTAC is a statewide program serving all cities and towns in Connecticut and its services are provided at no charge.
This procurement technical assistance center is funded in part through a PTAP cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.
Their Stamford office is located at One Landmark Square Building, Suite 300 in Stamford, CT.
Rep. Himes' Office
If you operate a small business (or are thinking about starting one!) in the fourth district, consider my local offices as yet another resource to help you succeed.
Please contact Vernita Tertullien in my Bridgeport office at 203-333-6600