South Windsor — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used one of the new job creation tools Wednesday that state lawmakers authorized during last fall’s special session, tapping a South Windsor company to launch the new Small Business Express Program.

Oxford Performance Materials, which is expected to be the first of dozens of firms to receive assistance within 30 days of appealing to the administration for help, is to use $300,000 in state funds to add 12 jobs and expand its production of skeletal replacement parts using advanced polymers.

malloy smith

Gov. Dannel Malloy and Catherine Smith

Malloy, who announced the award at the company’s headquarters on South Satellite Road, said state agencies were breaking new ground with the express program. “They’re learning a new way of doing business,” he said, adding that when it comes to responding to business requests for help, “that means getting to ‘yes’ in record time.”

“Small businesses are critical to re-inventing Connecticut,” the governor said. “Little by little, we must harness the can-do attitude of our state’s small companies so that their success will spur our state’s recovery.”

To help spur that recovery, Malloy and legislators from both parties launched several initiatives last October, including borrowing $100 million to fund the express program, which is designed to provide aid to companies within a month of first contact to help grow jobs.

Oxford will receive a $200,000 loan, repayable over five years with an annual interest rate of 2.5 percent, as well as a $100,000 grant that doesn’t have to be repaid. The company has agreed to double its work force and move forward with plans for a $1.8 million expansion.

“This project is critical to our success and has resulted in immediate hirings,” Oxford President Scott DeFelice said.

Catherine Smith, Malloy’s commissioner of economic and community development, said her office has received about 200 requests for express program aid to date. The $100 million in bonding authorized for the program is supposed to be divided evenly, with $50 million allocated this fiscal year and the remainder in 2012-13.

Smith said if express proves extremely successful, the department has authority to replenish the program with funds from the existing Manufacturing Assistance Act program. Smith didn’t indicate Wednesday how much might be drawn from that program.

“Right now we’re trying to help as many companies as we can,” she said. “Tell your friends and family, we are here to help.”

Malloy said that while the program was designed to provide assistance in quick fashion, that doesn’t mean state investments will be made recklessly. “It is an expedited review, but it is a review nonetheless,” he said.

Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, D-East Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature’s Commerce Committee, praised the administration for launching the express program with the South Windsor company. Though it lies within LeBeau’s district, the East Hartford lawmaker also noted that it typifies the cutting-edge business that state economic development programs ignored too often under prior administrations.

“This is a great example of the new technologies we’re talking about,” he said. “This is the future.”

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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