Seymour launches small business loan program


SEYMOUR — Renovating a storefront or expanding a business can be expensive, but businesses in Seymour can now count on a municipal loan program to help them through the process.

First Woman Select Annmarie Drugonis announced the Showtime for Seymour grants and loans program at a May 17 Selectman board meeting. The board approved the program by a vote of 6 to 0.

According to Drugonis, the $50,000 program will provide interest-free loans from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to small businesses in the city. Economic development consultant Sheila O’Malley said the program will help revitalize downtown as the city takes a more proactive approach to economic development.

The city had previously tried to drive downtown development with the Downtown Action Committee, but that committee disbanded in 2016. O’Malley said the new program, which is the first of its kind in the city, is a another tool to help businesses in the region.

“This loan/grant program is another tool in Seymour’s toolbox for economic growth. This will help attract, retain and grow business in Seymour. Coupled with the City and Town Development Act, we want people to know it’s Showtime in Seymour,” O’Malley said.

Businesses can apply for loans of up to $5,000, but some of these loans can be turned into grants based on need. This is especially good news for businesses recovering from a natural disaster or accident such as the fire that destroyed a historic building last month, according to Drugonis.

O’Malley said the loans are for businesses that need money for improvement projects and the program is self-financing. Applications are already available.

“For those who were kicked out of the fire, maybe we were thinking about a grant for a few months rent in Seymour, or just paying the lease for a few months,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said the city will publicize the program at the Strand Theater later in the summer with advertisements at film screenings.

The program’s name, Showtime for Seymour, is also tied to its planned advertising campaign, she said.

“The plan was to coordinate with the Strand Theatre. And that’s why I said, Showtime for Seymour, because that’s going to be the theme that we’re going to showcase our businesses on. Every month we will hold an event at the Strand and try to promote local businesses,” she said.

Drugonis said that while the loans are for downtown, any business within the city limits can qualify.

“I want to make sure everyone knows that Seymour is open for business and that business development is a priority,” she said. “This is an incentive program that provides a small amount of money that can help our businesses and shows that we care. It is primarily downtown focused, but can be for any business in Seymour.

Valley Chamber of Commerce President Bill Purcell said the program comes as businesses still grapple with the pandemic. Purcell said this program along with the existing tax incentive program sends a message to local businesses that the city cares about their survival.

“This is just another example of the city’s responsiveness to business needs. It’s been a tough time for the past couple of years for businesses large and small,” Purcell said.


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