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NJEDA Announces launch dates for $85 million Phase 4 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program

Phase 4 provides short-term, immediate payroll and working capital support to NJ small and medium businesses and nonprofits

Launch dates for Phase 4 funding

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced last week Phase 4 of the Authority’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, adding $85 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Phase 4 will provide short-term operating support to a broad group of New Jersey small and medium sized businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted during the declared state of emergency. More information is available here.

Interested business owners will need to pre-register here to access the application. Pre-registration will begin on Monday, April 19, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. and will close on April 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.  The application will be available via a phased approach following the end of the pre-registration period, as detailed below. Applicants must complete the full application to be considered for grant funding.

In line with Governor Murphy’s commitment to a stronger, fairer recovery, Phase 4 funding will be allocated to support the most adversely affected businesses, including restaurants, micro-businesses, and child care providers, as well as other small businesses. To ensure grants reach businesses in the hardest hit communities, including communities of color, one-third of funding will be targeted to businesses with a primary business location within the 715 census tracts designated as eligible to be selected as an Opportunity Zone. 

Phase 4, Small Business Emergency Assistance

newjerseyeda 🚨Reminders as we get set to launch Phase 4 of our Small Biz Emergency Assistance Grant Program: ✅Pre-registration opens tomorrow @ 9am
☑️Pre-registration is NOT first-come, first served ✅You MUST pre-register to apply bit.ly/NJEDA_Phase4 (via IG). 

“The economic impact this pandemic has wreaked in New Jersey is still being felt one year after it started, and it has disproportionally affected woman- and minority-owned businesses. The $85 million in additional funds committed to Phase 4 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will directly and expeditiously help these businesses stabilize their operations and minimize potential furlough or layoffs,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Businesses that are still struggling cannot wait for assistance and we are working uninterruptedly at the NJEDA to ensure that our communities don’t just survive the pandemic, but emerge from it stronger, fairer, and ready to rebuild.”

The Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program was created to provide funding as efficiently and quickly as possible to small and medium-sized businesses that needed payroll and working capital support as a result of adverse economic impacts following the March 9, 2020 declaration of a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency. Since the launch of Phase 1 of the program on April 6, 2020, the Authority has approved nearly 44,000 grant applications representing over $214 million in total grant funding awarded through Phases 1 – 3.  The program has evolved with each phase to offer expanded eligibility and award amounts.

What you can expect from Phase 4

Phase 4 funds aim to reimburse lost revenue as result of the business interruption caused by the pandemic between March 1, 2020 and the date of the grant agreement, providing the necessary resources to any eligible business that has been temporarily shut down, has been required to reduce hours, has had at least a 20 percent drop in revenue, has been materially impacted by employees who cannot work due to the outbreak, or has a supply chain that has materially been disrupted and therefore slowed firm-level production during the pandemic.

Phase 4 once again increases the amount of funding available to businesses. Grant awards will be calculated based on the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) businesses employ. Micro-businesses with five or fewer FTEs and sole proprietorships will receive up to $10,000; businesses with six to 25 FTEs will receive up to $15,000; and businesses with 26 to 50 FTEs will receive up to $20,000. A grant size estimator is available here.

You might be interested: NJEDA & digitalundivided showcase resources for Black & Latino Entrepreneurs

To maximize the funding businesses can receive in Phase 4, grant awards will be based on the peak FTE count from a business’s past eight quarters of WR-30 filings. Businesses must use funds from the Grant Program for reimbursement of lost revenue as a result of business interruption caused by the pandemic. Businesses may not use grant funds for capital expenses.

The $85,000,000 in funds available through Phase 4 will be allocated as follows:

  • Restaurants: $35 million of funding to support businesses classified as “Food Services and Drinking Places” under NAICS code 722, given the disproportionate impact these businesses have experienced due to the pandemic, including caps on on-location dining and unusual costs they incurred to adapt their business models for safe operations.
  • Child Care Providers: $10 million of funding to support businesses classified as “Child Day Care Services” under NAICS code 624410, given the disproportionate impact these businesses have experienced due to the pandemic, including caps on capacity numbers and unusual costs they incurred to adapt their business models for safe operations.
  • Micro-businesses: $25 million of funding to support businesses that have had 5 or fewer FTEs in each of their past eight quarters of WR-30 filings (including businesses with no FTEs), given the unique financial vulnerability experienced because of the pandemic by micro-businesses, which typically have lower financial reserves.
  • Other small businesses (6-50 FTE): The remaining $15 million of funding will support businesses that are not eligible under the micro-business category. 

How to Apply 

Applications will become available on a rolling basis following the pre-registration period (April 19, 2021, 9:00 a.m. to April 29, 2021, 5:00 p.m.) Pre-registered applicants will need to return to https://programs.njeda.com/en-US/ to complete an application based on the following schedule:

  • Businesses that did not apply for, or were not approved for Phase 3 funding – 9:00 a.m. on May 3, 2021
  • Restaurants and child care providers – 9:00 a.m. on May 5, 2021
  • Micro businesses (five or fewer FTEs) – 9:00 a.m. on May 10, 2021
  • All other small businesses, excluding restaurants, micro businesses, and child care providers – 9:00 a.m. on May 12, 2021

Applications for each category will be open for a period of one week and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, based upon the date and time the Authority receives a completed application submission.

The NJEDA is partnering with three leading marketing agencies to coordinate strategic outreach to targeted communities. Tara Dowdell Group, Medina=Citi, and 360 Marketing and PR were selected to support these outreach efforts based on their established connections to diverse communities across the state. All three firms are minority- and/or woman-owned.

The NJEDA is providing the online pre-registration and application in English and Spanish and offering applicants access to interpretation services to support speakers of ten additional languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Tagalog.

In addition to the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, the NJEDA administers a variety of technical assistance and low-cost financing programs for small and mid-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. More information about these programs and other State support is available at https://business.nj.gov/covid or call 844-965-1125.

fund, funding, money

NJ FAM Fund Created to Support NJ Latinx and Black Businesses

Last week, eight mayors from urban cities announced the creation of the NJ FAM (New Jersey 40 Acres and a Mule Fund), with the collective goal of putting capital directly in the hands of New Jersey’s Black and Latinx business owners and communities, which traditionally have suffered the greatest barriers in access to financial resources.

fund, funding, money

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

The new initiative stems from the Newark FAM Fund (Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund), which was introduced in September 2020 as a private investment vehicle seeking to raise $100 million to combat and reduce social and economic inequalities resulting from systemic racism. The pandemic and continued interest in the fund from across New Jersey has led to the expansion of the program into a statewide initiative.

The NJ FAM Fund was created by a partnership of eight mayors from cities in New Jersey, with assistance from New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and from an advisory board. The new initiative will operate with collaboration from eight cities across New Jersey: Newark, Orange, East Orange, Paterson, Camden, Trenton, Irvington, and Atlantic City.

“While the racial wealth gap is a national struggle, it is especially salient in Newark. Minority businesses have always faced more roadblocks than their counterparts and the pandemic has only worsened the issue. The NJ FAM Fund aims to help these businesses reach their full potential in these tumultuous times,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “These investments will be a tremendous tool for the minority business community in Newark and we are incredibly grateful for this generous support.”

“The past year has been extremely difficult and put a spotlight on the racial wealth gap that exists in our country, but we cannot pretend that this problem is something new,” said Bernel Hall, managing partner of the New Jersey FAM Fund. “We look forward to expanding this initiative as partners come to the table. Through the Fund, our goal is to help Black and Latinx business owners and developers to expand their operations, create jobs and generate wealth for the communities that they serve.”

“When the difference in median net worth between White families and Black/Latinx families is nearly 200%, that is much more than a social disparity. That kind of gap is representative of the inequitable financial policies that have kept Black and Latinx businesses and families behind the national curve for decades,” said Mayor Ted R. Green of East Orange. “This initiative is how we start to bring balance to the communities that have been devastated the most. This is how we make amends and bring generational wealth into our communities.”

“We’re proud to stand with Mayor Baraka and other city leaders who understand that an equitable business environment is crucial to maintaining the diverse identity of our urban communities,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton. “Despite decades of institutional and financial obstacles, many of our Black and Latino residents still put in the hard work to become entrepreneurs. We need programs like the one announced today to help make sure those historical challenges are not an impediment to their long-term success.”

The name of the fund comes from one of the earliest Reconstruction promises to the newly freed slaves of 1865, to provide freshly emancipated families with “40 acres and a mule” on land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts following the Union winning the Civil War. The radical proposal was issued on Jan. 16, 1865, and the initiative was inspired after Union General William T. Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton met with 20 Black ministers four days earlier. Had the policy been fully implemented and enforced, former slaves would have had a chance to be self-sufficient economically, to build, accrue and pass on wealth. However, the promise was not realized for the majority of the nation’s former slaves, and President Andrew Johnson, a sympathizer for the South, overturned the policy in the fall of 1865.

According to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the median net worth of New Jersey’s white families is $309,000, while the median for New Jersey’s Latinx and Black families is just $7,020 and $5,900, respectively—one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the nation. The objective of the NJ FAM fund is to close these gaps by providing Black and Latinx business owners with a more level playing field with their competitors.

financial strategies

Best use of PPP and other financing strategies for Latina business owners

Latina business owners are usually in industries that traditional funding sources are reluctant to invest in such as restaurants, beauty and the like. But sooner or later, they will need financing.  Economic times may seem challenging, but they are filled with opportunities.  In fact, this is the best time to invest in your business.  Many businesses have suffered financially.  However, the good news is that there is still capital available.  Take advantage of all the capital resources available right nowand develop your financing strategies.

What is a good financing strategy?
Financing should be part of your overall business.  You spend time on marketing, sales, operations, hiring and administration.  How much time do you spend on developing financing strategies?  A strategy consists of looking at short-term and long-term goals for your business.  All successful businesses had a plan to access capital.  For instance, Facebook raised debt and equity capital until it went public.  They had a financing strategy in place.  What are your options?

Government financing
First, take advantage of the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, or EDIL program loans.  Make sure you apply to both PPP and EDIL program.  Many business owners got discouraged when they heard that PPP had run out of funds.  Also, in May the SBA stopped taking EIDL applications.

Now, this has changed.  There is still PPP funding and the SBA is taking new applications for eligible businesses.  These grants and loans are probably the best for your business. Even if you had to pay back these loans, the interest rates on these loans range from 1% to 3.75%.  Also, do not get discourage if you are denied.

You can reapply as many times as you want as long as you can provide new financial documentation to support your case.  With the EIDL you have until December of 2020 to apply and reapply unless if they shut down again. You may need an agent or a business financial advisor to help you out.  Also, there are many initiatives for Latina Business Owners via the SBA and other resources.

Short-term financing options
Second, look into short-term financing options.  Prior to Covid-19 there were many online lenders who were providing business lines of credit and term loans up to 24-months.  Today, that is not the case.  Sad but true, the best online lenders such as On Deck Capital, Kabbage, and others have put lending to a halt.  Many banks are not lending to due the uncertainty in the economy, pending fed rates and also busy processing PPP loans.  As a result, short-term financing may be your only option.  These are loans are based on daily, weekly, and bi-weekly payments.  The repayment terms may range from 3 months to 12 months maximum.  How to integrate this type of capital into your financing strategy?

  1. Short-term returns
    If you are purchasing inventory and you can turn it around in 30 days, you can use short-term funding. If you gain a short-project, this capital may come in handy.2. Short-term planning
    There is saying “There is no tomorrow and there was not yesterday; if you truly want to accomplish your goals you must engulf yourself in today.” Cash flow is the blood line of any business. Integrate short-term financing into a short-term sales strategy. For instance, if you plan to increase online sales that can generate short-term cash that will help you repay back a short-term loan.3. Do not overleverage
    You may get approved for $50,000 but only use what you need.  Instead use $25,000.  This will avoid many problems in the future. Even if you do not need it use a minimal amount to establish a credit relationship4. Establish a credit relationship
    Any lender who is lending right now is assuming a huge risk. The effects of the pandemic on the economy and its recovery remain uncertain. However, if you establish an existing relationship with a short-term lender the future can only get better.  Usually, you can renew these loans when you pay off 50% of the balance or mid-way through the repayment term.  Let us assume you took out an 8-month loan. In month number 4 you can renew the loan.  This means you may be eligible to obtain more money, refinance it and obtain a better repayment term and interest rate.

Equipment financing
Equipment financing is also available in these turbulent times.  Since these loans have the equipment as collateral, they offer great terms.  Repayment terms can range from 2 to 5 years.  Furthermore, they offer monthly payments which help you manage cash flow better.

Sample of financing strategies

Quality Online Cargo Distributors was approved for $30,000 under the Payment Protection Program (PPP). They used the money to cover payroll for the next two months and rehire back existing employees.  Instead, of having the business pay for some of their personal expenses and taking the tax ride offs, they will have those expenses covered by the owner’s salary.  This way they avoid having to repay back PPP funds. In order for the PPP loan to be forgiven, at least 75% of the funds must be used for payroll costs, and 25% or less may be used for other authorized purposes. Payroll costs include: Salary, wages, commissions, or tips.  This business knows that this money will only last for two months.

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This business has other financial needs to address in the future.  As a result, they will need more capital.  With this in mind, they applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  They were approved for $100,000 at a 3.750% interest rate with a 30 year repayment period.  Since this loan has a long-term payment repayment period, rather than using the money all at once they have developed a long-term plan.  Within that plan they considered their slow season and also new business development strategies to capture new clients due to the loss of clients resulting from the pandemic.  They know that this may take 1 year to achieve.  At the same time, they will set aside some of this money for business reserves for emergencies.

Lastly, this business applied for short-term funding and got approved for $100,000.  Instead of taking the $100,000 because the interest rate is higher; they only took $50,000.  They will use this money over a 3-month period, and they have projected to make a short-term return on the use of funds.  Also, they understand that this source of capital can serve their short-term needs on an ongoing basis.  On the other hand, the government incentives program will not be around in the years to come unless in there is another disaster.  Having a source of capital ready, when needed is important for your business.

financial strategies

Lendinero, a bilingual company that works with all types of small businesses. (Logo Courtesy Lendinero)

This business has created a strategy on how to use numerous capital resources.  More important, rather than using the money all at once they have diversified the usage according to the business short-term and long-term needs.  The biggest mistakes businesses make when obtaining funding is not having a clear plan of action and using the funds all at once.  Then, several months later you find yourself in the same position.  The most important aspect of using debt for your business is knowing how to use it and how to achieve return on investment.

This is a brief example.  This plan for this business also entailed a budget, projected profit to loss and other financial projections taking into account loan payments, accounts payables, accounts receivables, reserves, risk management and hypothetical outcomes. This requires time, but it’s worth the investment.  A business with no direction is bound for failure.

(This is a paid contribution from Lendinero, the number 1 company dedicated to find financial solutions for small businesses)