FAIRFIELD — Opening a small business can be a daunting task, but the town can lend a helping hand, as Candlewood Market, a new coffee shop located in the Sportsplex, found out.
Candlewood is just one of the more recent 50 small businesses that has received a microgrant through the Community and Economic Development Department, according to Director Mark Barnhart.
“The micro-enterprise program is funded by a grant for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development under the Community Development Block Grant,” Barnhart said. “Our program has existed for roughly 15 years, during which we have assisted about 50 small businesses.”
Barnhart said approved businesses are reimbursed 50 percent of their eligible costs up to $5,000. “They typically have six months to expend the funds, although that can be extended,” Barnhart said.
The Candlewood Market sells the coffee owner Tony Inzero roasts himself at his coffee-roasting business in Brookfield. The market sells kombucha, and has a nitro bar for cold brew coffees and teas. There are also prepared foods, bakery items and gifts for sale.
Barnhart said the Community and Economic Development Department was thrilled to be able to provide the small grant. “Small businesses such as Candlewood Market are the backbone of our economy, and the micro-enterprise program has been a very useful tool in our small business development strategy, he said.
For his part, Inzero said they are happy to be in Fairfield.
“My family and I look forward to providing great coffee and exceptional service to the Fairfield community for many years to come,” he said.
Microgrants are available to new or existing community enterprises that have five or fewer employees. At least one of the employees must be the business owner. Applicants must current on all federal, state and local taxes.
One of the program’s goals is to increase employment opportunities for low and moderate income individuals, and business owners must be able to demonstrate they will be able to provide those expanded employment opportunities.
A business owner can also qualify if they are part of a low- or moderate-income household under federal Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Income limits range from $50,350 for one person to $89,200 for a seven-person household.
For information or an application, call Community and Economic Development at 203-256-3120.