The town of Windsor recently signed off on a $2.5 million state grant request, seeking support for a private redevelopment of a downtown strip mall into 100 apartments and ground-floor retail. It is one of 52 applications submitted to the state’s new Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program ahead of the Jan. 14 deadline. Announced in October, the challenge grant program is one of the first initiatives springing from Gov. Ned Lamont’s ambitious five-year, $750 million Economic Action Plan that aims to create 80,000 new jobs. The administration plans to pump $100 million into the challenge grant program within five years, resulting in 3,000 jobs. The challenge grants allow municipalities, regional councils of governments and economic development agencies to apply for up to $10 million for projects improving the vibrancy and appeal of communities. The state aims to grant at least half its funds to projects in distressed municipalities.