To help address the state’s small businesses and their need for personal protective equipment (PPE), Gov. Phil Murphy announced the first phase of the New Jersey Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program.
The program is designed to facilitate safe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, with $15 million made available to address ongoing demand for PPE.
The phase was approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Agency (NJEDA) Aug. 11.
Launching a Website for the Program
Under the first phase of the program, New Jersey will launch an associated website to provide micro and small business owners with information on the procurement of PPE. Additionally, it will offer a list of vetted online retailers that sell qualified PPE and offer a 10% discounts to businesses who enter through the website.
The online retailers will be vetted on a first-come, first serve basis by NJEDA. All members of the exchange will need to agree to certain performance standards, and they will be eligible to access a grant pool of $3.5 million administered by the agency to support the purchase of PPE manufactured in New Jersey or sourced from a small wholesaler based in a historically underserved community.
“Dependable, convenient access to PPE supplies is a key determinant of our ability to manage the spread of COVID-19 and the viability of any plan to reopen the state’s small businesses,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This proactive approach will help to alleviate the burden on business owners of finding reliable providers so they can focus on getting back to work.”
Looking to the Past to Prepare for the Future
In March and April, New Jersey faced an unprecedented spike in demand for PPE as the coronavirus pandemic took hold over the region. While the current supply of PPE has improved, as more businesses reopen, the state expects demand to increase again.
In June, the NJEDA issued a request for information to determine what could be done to shape a program that would ensure small and micro businesses had access to the life-saving materials. The program is designed to also support the state’s manufacturing sector.
“Business owners and company leaders have enough on their plates as they navigate operating with new protocols in place to safeguard the health of their customers and staff,” said Murphy. “We are taking this step to make finding and securing PPE and other safeguarding supplies easier for business owners, so they can focus on rebuilding their businesses and ensuring their future success.”
The NJEDA intends to expand the program with a $11 million of support for micro and small businesses PPE purchases after the first phase is completed. The intent is for this support to flow directly through the vetted online vendors, allowing users to access the grant funds at the time of their online checkout.
Through this public-private approach, state officials anticipate it could support more than $45 million in PPE purchases to over 50,000 small and micro businesses.
“The NJEDA’s top priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been helping the smallest of businesses face the unique challenges posed by this public health and economic crisis, including keeping their employees and customers safe,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Ensuring sufficient access to quality, affordable PPE is essential to allowing businesses of all sizes to reopen safely.”