PA 10-145—HB 5500

Commerce Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE OFFICE OF SMALL BUSINESS AFFAIRS AND ESTABLISHING THE SMALL BUSINESS ADVISORY BOARD

SUMMARY: This act expands the duties of the Department of Economic and Community Development's (DECD) Small Business Affairs Office, which under prior law included only running a small business development center and administering any business management program the commissioner established. The act additionally requires the office to:

1. provide a single contact point for small businesses seeking financial and technical assistance from state and quasi-public agencies,

2. coordinate all state small business revolving loan funds, and

3. establish an informational webpage listing all small business resources with appropriate links.

The act also requires the DECD commissioner to appoint and convene a Small Business Advisory Board to advise the department about resources available to small businesses. At a minimum, the board must include seven members: the DECD commissioner and representatives of a manufacturing association, a business association, a chamber of commerce, an economic development entity, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. The board members each serve five-year terms. They must meet by December 31, 2010 and at least annually after that.

The office must establish the webpage with the commissioner's cooperation and within available appropriations. It must also post the resources and links in a conspicuous place on DECD's website and update the information quarterly.

Beginning February 1, 2011, the act requires the office to summarize all available small business programs and activities and include the summary in DECD's comprehensive annual report.

Lastly, the act makes a technical correction to the law specifying the Small Business Affairs Office's duties. Prior law assumed that DECD ran the Small Business Development Center program and required the office to administer it. In practice, the federal Small Business Administration administers the program, which funds regional centers that provide comprehensive technical assistance to new and existing small businesses. The program currently funds five centers in Connecticut, including one housed in DECD.

The act changes the statute to reflect this arrangement by specifying that the office must administer at least one regional center housed within DECD. It also requires the office to coordinate with the center's director the flow of information within the program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except for the provision establishing the advisory board, which is effective July 1, 2010.

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