Business Operating Grants

The Middlesex County Revitalization Commission is offering grants of up to $25,000 to qualified small businesses and non-profit organizations in Middlesex County.

The grants are designed to provide operating assistance for small businesses and non-profit organizations to grow operations and keep residents employed.

The Middlesex County Revitalization Commission (MCRC) Business Operating Grants Program will distribute $200,000 in grants per year over five years, beginning in 2023 and ending in 2027.

The 2024 application period will open on Friday, March 1, 2024, and close on Sunday, March 31, 2024.  There will be no extensions.

We encourage all interested applicants to attend an information session and prepare their applications ahead of submission.

Attend an Upcoming MCRC Event

March 1, 2024

Bridge Bucks Program
Information Session

12:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

March 4, 2024

Bridge Bucks Program
Information Session

7:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

March 5, 2024

2024 Business Operating Grants
Info Session

10:00 a.m.
via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

March 6, 2024

2024 Business Operating Grants
Info Session

7:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

March 7, 2024

Bridge Bucks Program
Information Session

10:00 a.m.
Via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

March 14, 2024

2024 Business Operating Grants
Info Session

3:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

REGISTER HERE

Learn about the MCRC Business Operating Grants

Eligibility

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Eligibility Criteria

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Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible, the business or non profit must:

 

  • Be based in and have operated in a Middlesex County town for at least 24 months as of March 1, 2024 (this is a business retention and growth initiative for existing Middlesex County businesses. Startups will not be considered.)
  • Have no more than 50 employees and under $8 million in gross sales in 2023.
  • Be a for-profit United States Corporation, LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship, or a non-profit organization [501(c)3 or 501(c)4] and possess good character and reputation.
  • Be in good tax standing with the State of Connecticut Department of Revenue Services
  • Be compliant with the Connecticut Department of Labor Office of Unemployment Assistance and all applicable state and federal employment laws and regulations, including but not limited to minimum wages, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and child labor.
  • Be in good standing with the town where they are located.
  • Be up to date on all prior MCRC and state lending programs, if applicable.
  • Be in operation, even if working remotely.
  • The grant assistance must result in continued or increased employment for one year from the date of grant acceptance.
  • MCRC Business Operating Grants can fund a business only once in a calendar year; any future applications to the program from the same business will require additional documentation and review.
  • Please note:  even if the business meets these conditions, it will be disqualified if it has any of the following:
    • Active bankruptcies
    • Owners with unpaid child support
    • Outstanding tax liens / judgments

 Ineligible Applicants

  • Corporate-owned franchises with two or more locations
  • Payday loan businesses
  • Adult-oriented businesses
  • Passive real estate investments
  • Lobbying firms
  • Pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing firms
  • Speculative business firms such as commodity futures trading
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Funding

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Grant Amount

  • The maximum assistance amount will not exceed $25,000.00 per business per grant year.
  • The total grant amount per business will be based on the documented need of the business and available resources.
  • MCRC will determine if a matching component of the grant will be required.

Feasibility

The business must be able to demonstrate that the operating assistance provided will enable the business to continue to operate and/or to provide continued employment to its employees. The business must present a reasonable likelihood for long-term viability.

Use of Funds

Applicant must demonstrate that the operating funds are necessary and sufficient, when combined with any other sources, to sustain and grow the business, and increase and/or retain jobs. The grants are to provide funds for potential business expansion and growth or support ongoing operations due to a hardship currently being experienced.

The approved use of funds includes equipment and/or technology, leasehold improvements, and other fixed costs, including costs associated with supply chain disruption, increased employee travel time/mileage expenses, increased vendor costs, loss of income, or additional marketing expenses.

Compliance

A formal agreement between the assisted business and MCRC will be required. This agreement will constitute the means by which MCRC monitors and enforces compliance with the grant program requirements.

How to Prepare 

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Application Questions & Documentation Required

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All applications are to be submitted online.  You will receive a confirmation of receipt.

There are five sections to the application:

  1. Business information
  2. Job retention and creation projections
  3. Financial information
  4. Use of funds
  5. Certification

All applications must include the following documentation:

  • IRS Determination Letter (nonprofit organizations only)
  • Letter of Good Standing from the CT Department of Revenue Services
  • IRS Form 941 for 2023 Q4
  • Federal Tax Returns (see requirements under the Financial Information section) for 2021, 2022, and 2023 (or a CPA-certified P&L statement for 2023).

Please make sure you have these documents as PDF files to upload during the application process.  Please remove all password protection.

Click here to download the 2024 eligibility requirements and application questions.

 

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What the Grant Review Subcommittee is Looking For in Each Application

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  •  Thoughtful, complete, and well-developed picture of your business that shows a path to sustainability and growth.
  • Exceptionally clear use of grant funds, with a direct link to sustained business operations, continued employment, and growth potential.
  • Financial reporting and projections that reflect the seasonality of the business (if applicable), and where all numbers make sense.
  • Clearly articulated return on investment – that the funds will assist with operational sustainability, and the grant will have a meaningful impact on the business.

Applications will be reviewed by a subcommittee of MCRC consisting of Commissioners, members of the Middlesex community, and the MCRC chair.  Applications recommended by the subcommittee will be presented for a vote by the full Commission.

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Sign Up & Attend an Information Session

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We highly recommend all interested in applying attend an information session before starting the application. Each session includes a discussion on eligibility, funding options, application requirements, and reporting requirements for those who receive a grant.

There will be a total of six (6) live sessions for the 2024 round, and the schedule is listed above. If you are not able to attend a live session, you may watch a recording.

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Talk with The MCRC Administrator

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The MCRC Administrator is available to help answer your questions ONLY AFTER you have attended a live or on-demand information session. Please click here to schedule an appointment.  

*Applications will be reviewed by a panel of MCRC Commissioners and experts from the community.  The MCRC Administrator will not be making the decisions on who receives grants. 

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How to Obtain a Letter of Good Standing

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Please request your letter from the CT DRS myconneCT online center: myconnectCT

Here is a tutorial on how to request the status letter:  Requesting a Status Letter (of Good Standing)

Click for an example of what your status letter should look like. Please note that if it does not look like this – it is the wrong document.

FAQs

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What businesses are eligible to apply?

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Most businesses can apply except the following:  Corporate-owned franchises, payday loan businesses, adult-oriented businesses, passive real estate investments, lobbying firms, pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing businesses, speculative business firms such as commodity futures trading, bail bonds; collection agencies or services; and auction or bankruptcy or “lost-our-lease” or “going-out-of-business” or similar sale.

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Do we need to be a member of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce to apply?

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No, the business does not need to be a member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce to apply for or receive a grant through this program.  

The Middlesex County Revitalization Commission (MCRC) is an independent organization with members representing the 15 towns in Middlesex County, Connecticut, along with a representative from the Chamber. 

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Can our business apply if it is not in Middlesex County, Connecticut?

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No, you are not able to apply if the business is not headquartered/located in one of the 15 towns in Middlesex County, Connecticut, and owned by a Connecticut resident.

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What can the grant funds be used for?

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Grants are awarded to businesses that clearly demonstrate that the operating funds are necessary and sufficient, when combined with any other sources, to sustain and grow the business, increase and/or retain jobs. The grants are to provide funds for potential business expansion and growth or support ongoing operations due to a hardship currently being experienced.

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What is not an eligible use of funds?

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Grant funds may not be used for debt repayment; municipality, state, or federal taxes; reimbursement for past purchases; or subscriptions. If you are unsure about what is an eligible use of funds, please contact Rebecca Mead at rebecca@midlesexchamber.com.

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Can I use the funding towards marketing my business?

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You may not use the grant funds for the general marketing of your business/products/services. A marketing campaign is eligible if it is being used to market a new product or service offering for a limited amount of time. This campaign needs to have a measurable impact on the business’ growth and profitability. If you are unsure about what is an eligible marketing project, please contact Rebecca Mead at rebecca@middlesexchamber.com.

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How long do I need to be in business for in order to apply in 2024?

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All applicants must have been in business for at least two years with a record of sales.  The business must have been established by March 31, 2022, to be eligible to apply in the 2024 round.

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What if I moved my business into Middlesex County - am I eligible to apply?

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If the business/organization has moved,  the total time located within a Middlesex County town must be at least two years (24 months) by March 31, 2024, to be eligible to apply for the 2024 grants.

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Do Independent Contractors count toward my employee count?

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Independent contractors, or “gig” workers do not count toward your employee calculations.  Only full or part-time employees are to be considered in the calculations, or as retained or increased employment numbers on the grant application.

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Am I still eligible if I was previously a Sole Proprietor, and only recently became an LLC or registered my business?

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Yes. If you have been the primary owner/operator of the business for at least two years and can provide all of the required documents needed for the application. Please note in your application the change in business structure.

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What if I haven't filed my taxes yet?

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If you are on an extension with your 2023 taxes, you may submit a certified P&L statement from your accountant.  A printout from Quickbooks or another accounting software will not suffice, however, an accountant-certified profit & loss statement for 2023 will be accepted in lieu of the 2023 tax return.

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How do I submit the application?

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Applications will be accepted through our online portal until March 31, 2024.  Emailed applications will not be accepted.

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Can someone review my application before I submit it?

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Unfortunately, no.

We are not able to review applications, however, the MCRC Administrator* is available to help answer your questions ONLY AFTER you have attended a live or on-demand information session. Please click here to schedule an appointment 

We also recommend that all applicants begin to prepare their applications and attachments well in advance of the application deadline of March 31, 2024.  Once the applicant completes the application and clicks the “SUBMIT” button, the application is final.

*Applications will be reviewed by a panel of MCRC Commissioners and experts from the community.  The MCRC Administrator will not be making the decisions on who receives grants. 

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Who reviews the applications?

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Applications will be reviewed by a subcommittee of MCRC consisting of Commissioners, members of the Middlesex community, and the MCRC chair.  Applications recommended by the subcommittee will be presented for a vote by the full Commission.

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When will the grant awards be announced?

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Grant awards will be announced in early May, pending the volume of applications received. Please do not reach out to us before then to check the status of your application as all updates will be emailed to you directly.

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What happens if my grant application is not approved? Can I reapply in the future?

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If you are eligible and your application is not approved, you will be eligible to apply during the next round of funding in early 2025.

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Will there be future rounds of grants?

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Yes, the Business Operating Grants Program is a five-year grant opportunity. The program will distribute $200,000 each year from 2023 to 2027.  Please join our email list to be notified when the next grant round opens.

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Is the grant money considered taxable income?

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Yes, the grant money is considered taxable income, and we advise that you discuss the tax implications for your business with an accountant.

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What is required after I receive a grant?

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Following the receipt of the grant funding, you are required to provide proof (receipts and other documentation) that you used the funding as you stated in your application. MCRC will check in with you on a quarterly basis for one calendar year following the distribution of funds, and documentation can be uploaded to the grant portal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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