COVID-19 had hit small businesses the hardest, with many having to shut down for extended periods of time and severely limit their services leading to loss of revenue and financial hardship. Luckily relief is on the way for New Jersey small businesses as Gov. Murphy announces $100 million in additional CARES Act funding to support NJ residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CARES Act funding to support NJ businesses
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the global economy. For months, businesses came to a screeching halt and for states like New Jersey, where small businesses are integral to the economy, local communities felt the economic blow hard.
“Small businesses and the people they employ are the backbone of New Jersey’s economy, yet they have borne a disproportionate share of the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “If we are to emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than we were before, it is incumbent on us to support them in any way possible. This additional funding helps us accomplish that goal.”
The additional aid comes as a relief to many NJ restaurant and small business owners who have struggled the most during this time. The bulk of the money, $70 million, will be distributed to restaurants, microbusinesses, and other small businesses through Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. An additional $10 million will be used to help small businesses purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the NJEDA Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program.
Phase 3 of the Grant Program expands eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive. To ensure funds flow to businesses that need them most, Phase 3 includes set-asides for grants to restaurants and micro-businesses. $35 million will be dedicated to support businesses classified as “Food Services and Drinking Places” under NAICS code 722 and $15 million will be directed to support “micro-businesses” that have five or fewer employees. The remaining $20 million will be available to support any eligible business.
“I want to commend our state leaders for working together to get the federal coronavirus relief dollars we passed last spring into the hands of those who need it most,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. “This $100 million fund announced today by the Governor and our legislative leaders comes from the money we in Congress included in the CARES Act to help combat the economic fallout of this pandemic. The federal money will help struggling New Jersey small businesses stay open, help them get the personal protective gear they need to keep employees and customers safe, and provide additional rental and food assistance to residents who need it most.”
In line with Governor Murphy’s commitment to a stronger, fairer recovery, one third of each of these pools will be directed to support entities that are located in census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone.
The Administration is also providing $10 million of additional CARES Act funding to support the Authority’s Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program. Launching in late October, this program will utilize an innovative public-private partnership model to enable businesses with 100 employees or fewer to receive grants in the form of automatic discounts on PPE purchased through NJEDA-approved “Designated Vendors”.
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“Supporting small businesses is vital to ensuring New Jersey’s economy withstands the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is well-positioned for a strong recovery. The Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program and the PPE Access Program are powerful tools that will help thousands of business owners and employees face the challenges the pandemic has created,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Governor Murphy’s strong leadership throughout this outbreak and commitment to supporting these critical programs will provide immediate relief to the business owners and workers who need it most while continuing our progress toward a stronger, fairer recovery.”
Launched in early April, the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, over 19,000 small businesses have benefited from the program.
Additional relief for renters and food banks
The pandemic has also had a devastating impact on many vulnerable NJ families. To help protect them the Administration will also provide $15 million more in rent relief for New Jersey tenants through the DCA’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program reduces the burden renters face by paying landlords directly for up to six months. The funding announced today will cover rent incurred from August 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020. Payments per household will depend on a variety of factors such as location, rental market, family size, and average per household income.
“The additional support we are providing will extend relief to tenants so they can focus their limited resources on staying safe and secure,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner.
Lastly, $5 million will go toward supporting food banks and other hunger relief efforts.
“The coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated existing hunger issues and has created new struggles for families who have lost jobs and wages,” said NJ Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher.
The CARES Act funding will go toward helping New Jersey’s food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens expand their capacity for these continually increased demands so that they can help feed more NJ families in need.
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