The state will begin a new program next year to provide loans for small bioscience companies, Gov. John G. Rowland announced Wednesday.

The initiative, which begins Jan. 1, 2003, will provide Connecticut banks with a 30 percent loan guarantee for small firms that need financing for machinery and equipment.

“This fund should provide further incentive to the bioscience companies currently located in the state, as well as those considering relocating to Connecticut,” Rowland said.

Webster Bank will be the first bank to participate in the program. The state will provide an initial investment of $1 million and leverage $3 million in private investment.

More state banks are expected to become involved. The fund is supposed to grow to $3.5 million, leveraging more than $11 million in private investment over the next two years, according to the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Bioscience.

–Associated Press