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PAST EVENTS: Meriden BIG Information Session

On Tuesday, April 18, 2023 the Meriden Economic Development Corp., the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Meriden Economic Development Department held an information session about the Meriden BIG program. Attendees learned about the Meriden BIG programs and experienced a demo of the pre-application process. Attendees were given the opportunity to meet with resource providers, such as the Black Business Alliance, CEDF, SBDC, SCORE, and SAMA to learn about other various programs and funding opportunities.

The Program:

“Meriden Growth and Investment Fund” (the “Program”) which has been funded by the Meriden City Council allocation of up to $5,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Acts (ARPA) funds to assist in the reinvestment in Meriden properties and infrastructure to reduce business vacancy in storefronts and to promote business development and active business corridors in the City of Meriden.

Applicants will be required to provide a Schedule C Tax Form as well as a certification of good standing with the State of CT Department of Revenue Services

Management of Program:

The Program will be managed by the Department of Economic and Community Development (the “Department”) of the City of Meriden in coordination with the Department of Development and Enforcement and the Finance Department and assisted by the Meriden Economic Development Corporation (“MEDCO”) and the Midstate Chamber of Commerce (the “Midstate Chamber”).

Initial Fund Capitalization:



The objective of the Program is to provide matching grants to enhance code correction and economic development in the City of Meriden generally and with an incentive for revitalization in the downtown Meriden Transit Oriented District (TOD). This program is intended to enhance revitalization and to contribute positively to the economic welfare of the municipality and the State, by increasing the employment and property values in Meriden and bringing about a more vibrant and active downtown with a greater number of people, businesses, income balance, and opportunity.

Eligible Program Activities:

Three (3) sets of eligible program activities are proposed as part of this initiative with initial budget breakdowns as follows (all Program expenses for which shall be subject to City of Meriden purchasing requirements as provided herein):

  1. Code correction assistance, which would provide a 50/50 matching grant to business owners and developers for the cost of improvements to transform vacant spaces to code compliant commercial uses. This would include correcting fire, safety, electrical, structural, and other code violations. The assistance could also include a provision for a feasibility study to estimate the return on investment of such intended building uses. For projects in the Meriden TOD the private matching requirement will be reduced to 25% of the total cost. The budget allocation for code correction would be $1,875,000 and the maximum dollar amount of each City code correction assistance grant will be limited to $300,000 per project.
  2. Vanilla Box assistance, which would provide 50/50 matching grants to property owners and developers to create marketable base space for lease or sale for business use after completion of any code compliance correction to the structure. These grants will be utilized only to make existing vacant business and commercial spaces reasonably tenantable with reasonable tenant improvements and reduce deficiencies and economic disincentives to use of the spaces. For projects in the Meriden TOD the private matching requirement will be reduced to 25% of the total cost. The budget allocation for code correction would be $1,875,000 and the maximum dollar amount of each City code correction assistance grant will be limited to $300,000 per project.
  3. Economic Development Funding, which would provide grants for small start-up businesses- $500,000 of grants. These will be awarded to start-up businesses that meet certain criteria and agree to operate in Meriden. Grants will be limited to a maximum of $50,000 per recipient. Program funding will only be allowed for new business expenses and will not be permitted for reimbursement of rent, utilities and capital costs expended by Applicants prior to final approval of the grant application.

Up to $250,000 in additional funding may be allocated by the Department to any or some of these program activities.

Outreach and Applications:

Outreach activities for applicants for this Program will be initiated through the City Economic and Community Development Department, the City Code Enforcement Department, the Midstate Chamber, MEDCO and through minority business outreach programs such as Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA), the Black Business Alliance and other local and state economic development resources. An application process will be developed, and applications will be solicited commencing upon Program start. Preapplications by applicants for projects will be solicited for review prior to detailed applications being prepared for final submission and approval. Preapplications will be received by the Department and remitted as follows:

  • First, to the City’s ARPA consultant for review of the proposed activities and Applicant for conformity to federal ARPA regulations;
  • Second, if approved by the City’s ARPA consultant to MEDCO for review by the MEDCO committee established to review and recommend approval of the Program applications; and
  • Third, to the Department for final approval as being in accordance with Department and City priorities – the Department may disapprove and veto or delay any Applications approved by the MEDCO approval committee.

Upon completion and approval of preapplications by the MEDCO approval committee and the Department, the Applicants will be directed to a consulting firm hired by the City using Program funds (the “Applicant Concierge”) to assist Applicants in the preparation of a detailed application for final consideration and approval. Approval will be conditioned upon, among other things, the detailed applications being in accordance with City and federal regulations and Program guidelines. Upon approval of any final applications the Department will prepare and enter into written Grant Agreements and associated documentation with the successful Applicants.

The Department and MEDCO will engage in successive application periods of up to 90-days each to receive and review groups of applications and will continue successive applications periods until the earlier of December 31, 2024, or the date when all Program funding has been allocated.

Funding Priorities:

Priority funding will be for projects located in the Meriden TOD, being located in a census tract, to permit additional employment and business opportunities for minority and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

Initial considerations on priority and lower ranking business applications for this Program follows:

  1. Priority Projects – Businesses that would fit Meriden’s Economic Demographic:
    • Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses Support
    • Craft Brewery / {Craft Distillery} - Economic Development is already in Contact with the Connecticut Brewers Guild
    • Medical
    • Family Entertainment i.e. Music, arts
    • Restaurants
    • Manufacturing
    • Service Industry:
      • By definition: banking, communications, wholesale and retail trade, all professional services such as engineering, computer software development, and medicine, nonprofit economic activity, all consumer services, and all government services, including defense and administration of justice
  2. Low Scoring Businesses – Due to an abundance of the business listed
    • Package Stores
    • Tattoo Parlor
    • Nail/Hair Salons (not including Cosmetology schools)
    • Pizza Shops
    • Dance Studios
  3. Ranking Of Applications – Initial Considerations
    • Most impactful i.e. need Most opportunity for job creation
    • Financial ability to complete the project – is it sustainable,
    • Potential Longevity of Business/Project

Detailed criteria will be developed to uniformly review and evaluate applications and associated backup information and to determine the priority of the Applications received.

Matching Requirements:

Successful Applicants with projects proposed outside the Meriden Transit Oriented District (“TOD”) will be required to show a cash investment (whether by cash investment or by committed loan facility) by the property owners and/or the current or prospective lessee in an amount not less than one-half (½) of the amount of approved Program funds for the project. Applicants for projects located within the TOD will be required to show such a matching investment of no less than one-quarter (¼) the amount of approved Program funds for the project. In addition to direct project costs paid by Applicants, design costs for preparation of plans and applications for funding incurred by Applicants will qualify for matching purposes. Proceeds of loans for project costs incurred by Applicants will be counted against the matching requirement provided these funds are actually used for project costs.

Mandatory Completion Date:

Detailed complete final applications must be submitted within 90-days after notification to the Applicants of approval of their preapplication, or within such additional time as may be approved by the Department or MEDCO approval committee. All detailed applications for projects to be funded by the Program must be completed and all Program funds fully approved and allocated on or before December 31, 2024. Any funding applications or preapplications outstanding that have not been completed and approved, and any obligation by the City to consider providing Program funds for any unapproved applications, will lapse and terminate on that date.

Eligible Applicants:

Eligible Applicants for the Program activities are as follows:

  • Code Correction Assistance: The owner of a vacant or underutilized commercial property in the City of Meriden. If all or any portion of the required cash match is being provided by a lessee of the premises, the lessee must join as an Applicant with the property owner. Priority will be given to projects that reduce the number of vacant storefronts.
  • Vanilla Box Assistance: The owner of a ground floor vacant commercial property in the City of Meriden. If all or any portion of the required cash match is being provided by a lessee of the premises, the lessee must join as an Applicant with the property owner. Priority will be given to projects that reduce the number of vacant storefronts.
  • Economic Development Funding: The business entity and all owners of 20% or more of the equity interests in the business entity must join as the Applicant.

Applicants may submit separate applications for more than one business location in Meriden. Separate projects at different addresses by a single applicant will be permitted.

Eligible Expenses and Purchasing through City; Inspections and Follow-Up Reporting:

Project expenses funded by the Program shall be limited to project costs and services allowed by federal ARPA regulations and the Program guidelines. Such expenses may include, without limitation, direct construction costs and costs of design and of personal property or services required for the project or the eligible business. Program funds may NOT be used to repay any prior loans taken and drawn for the project prior to approval of the final application or for any expenses prohibited by federal or state regulations or the Program guidelines.

All expenditures of Program funds must comply with City of Meriden purchasing requirements. Approval of such project costs through the Purchasing Department of the City of Meriden will be required for Program expenses. For example, all Program expenses of $25,000 or more shall require competitive bidding through the City of Meriden Purchasing Department. Expenses of the approved project that are not funded by any Program funds, however, will not be required to comply with City of Meriden bidding procedures. Any such expenses not funded by Program funds will, however, qualify as required Program matching funds.

Connecticut prevailing wage restrictions shall apply in all contracts for expenditure of Program funds. Federal Davis-Bacon Act wage restrictions shall also apply if other state or federal funds are employed in the project.

The Applicant Concierge will be available to assist Applicants in determining the expenses that may be approved.

Applicants will be required to report and provide backup information on project costs and activities as may be required by the Department and MEDCO or under applicable federal or state regulations.

The City of Meriden may inspect the project and the business records of the approved Applicants from time to time as it may require to obtain information and assure compliance with the approved Program application and grant agreement with the City.

Applicant Documentation:

In addition to the other requirements herein and as may be established by the Department as part of the design of the Program application process, the detailed applications by Applicants must provide the following:

  • Financial statements, tax returns or other documentation evidencing the required matching funds and financial ability to complete the project and operate the proposed business – which information will be held by MEDCO as confidential proprietary information and not disclosed to the public.
  • Detailed plans or project description showing the work to be performed or uses proposed for the project and Program funding.
  • A detailed budget for the proposed project for full buildout or program costs and a budget showing the specific uses of the Program grant funds.
  • Information on minority- and women-owned businesses supported by the Program and projects supporting minority or low-income residents of Meriden.
  • Tenant leases for the affected premises evidencing an initial or remaining lease term of not less than three (3) years for any application where the tenant is an Applicant, is providing matching funding, or is contributing to payment of the project cost.
  • W-9 forms and any other documentation and other agreements or information required under federal grant regulations or to comply with other federal, state or City requirements.
  • Building projects requiring City permits will require submission of plans that have been stamped as approved by a CT licensed architect, engineer or other authorized design professional prior to approval and disbursement of grant funds. This requirement will be included in the grant agreement between the City and the successful Applicant(s). Applicants will be solely responsible for compliance with all state and City building and code requirements.
  • Additional documentation as may be required based upon the particular circumstances of the application or project proposed.

The preapplication process will require the following:

  • Information on the proposed Applicant(s).
  • A description of the project and cost estimates.
  • A description of the anticipated sources of matching funds.
  • Additional documentation as may be required based upon the particular circumstances of the application or project proposed.

Ineligible Business Applicants:

  • Firms engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted, i.e. Cannabis-related and Marijuana dispensaries
  • Business engaged in speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through the normal course of trade
  • Facilities primarily used for gambling or to facilitate gambling
  • Firms engaged primarily in lobbying activities
  • Firms engaged in pyramid sales schemes
  • Pay day loan stores
  • Businesses of a sexually prurient nature.
  • Any Applicant currently delinquent or in default on any other state or City financial assistance or obligations
  • Any Applicant delinquent on federal, state or local taxes

Applicant Attestations:

Each Applicant must attest in the detailed application and grant agreement that:

  • It is not using loan proceeds:
    • to repay delinquent federal or state income taxes;
    • to repay taxes held in trust or escrow;
    • to reimburse funds owed to any owner, including any equity investment or investment of capital for the business’s continuance; or
    • to purchase any portion of the ownership interest of any owner of the business.
    • To repay any loans taken by Applicant(s) drawn prior to the approval of the final grant application -- provided, however, that payment of lines of credit drawn after approval of the grant application will be permitted if such loans were used for the project expenses being reimbursed by the Program funds.
  • The Applicant is not making false claims
  • The Applicant is not:
    • An executive officer, director, or principal shareholder of MEDCO or any other contractor assisting in the Program.
    • A member of the immediate family of an executive officer, director, or principal shareholder of MEDCO or any other contractor assisting in the Program.
    • A business engaged in speculative activities that profit from fluctuations in price, such as wildcatting for oil and dealing in commodities futures, unless those activities are incidental to the regular activities of the business and part of a legitimate risk management strategy to guard against price fluctuations related to the regular activities of the business or through the normal course of trade
    • A business engaged in pyramid sales, where a participant’s primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants
    • A business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or, if permitted by federal law, applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted (this includes businesses that make, sell, service, or distribute products or services used in connection with illegal activity, unless such use can be shown to be completely outside of the business’s intended market); this category of businesses includes direct and indirect marijuana businesses, as defined in SBA Standard Operating Procedure 50 10 6
    • A business deriving more than majority of its gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities.

Targeted Program Start Date:

November 15, 2022

Administration Fees:

The Department shall expend not more than $500,000 during the term of the Program for outreach, administrative and consulting services for the Program, including for services provided by MEDCO. Any administrative funds remaining, or projected to be remaining, may be allocated by the Department to any or all of the Program activities.

Reimbursement of Approved Expenses and Reporting Requirements:

Payment by the City to approved Applicants will be in accordance with the terms of a grant agreement between the City and the Applicant. Reimbursements will be made by the City to approved Applicants for payments made by Applicants for approved expenses. Approved Applicants will also be required to maintain records and submit information on a periodic basis to the City to comply with state and federal grant funding requirements for American Recovery Act Program grant funds as will be set forth in detail in the grant agreement between the City and the successful Applicant.

Revision of Program Guidelines:

The Program guidelines and this Program Description may be amended by the City and MEDCO at any time and from time to time – which amendments will be effective immediately upon approval by the MEDCO approval Committee and the Department. No legal rights are offered or intended to any Applicants or any other parties until or unless a completed grant application has been approved and a grant agreement executed between the Applicants and the City of Meriden. In the event of any irreconcilable inconsistency between the Program guidelines or this Program Description and the City grant agreement, the provisions of the City grant agreement shall prevail and control.

Fill Out the Pre-Application Form

Pre-Application Form