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New Jersey Legislators Back Measures To Assist Pandemic Preparedness

New Jersey legislators are working to bring funding to support manufacturing businesses in the Garden State that are producing medical supplies that can aid in the fight against COVID-19.

Under a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Moen (D-5), small businesses at risk of discontinuing operations due to a decline in revenue during the pandemic would be eligible to receive grants ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.

A-4304 would allocate $10 million to the state’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) from New Jersey’s federal CARES Act money to fund grants. Its companion bill, S-2665, was introduced into the Senate by Sens. Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Linda Greenstein (D-14).

Money Split

The money would be split up, with $5 million going towards businesses manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine or therapeutics and the other half earmarked for companies producing personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices or pharmaceuticals.

In a press release, Moen said, “Many businesses throughout New Jersey are struggling to stay in operation right now and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Prior to the pandemic, our state had nearly 9,000 manufacturing companies employing over 245,000 people. It would be a detriment to our economy and the livelihood of countless residents if we were to lose our manufacturing power.”

He added: “Unfortunately, we have seen that we cannot rely on outside manufacturers to provide us with enough medical supplies, including PPE, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. We need to be more self-reliant when it comes to supplying residents and professionals with the materials they need to weather a public health crisis.”

Congressional Action

The move by state lawmakers goes in hand with the recent passage of The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $740.5 billion defense policy bill approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, that includes two amendments backed by Rep. Mikie Sherrill aimed at boosting overall pandemic preparedness.

The amendments call for:

  • Providing $10 million the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in connection with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), to create a national supply chain database to assess the country’s manufacturing capabilities, determine were manufacturers can retool production lines to meet urgent needs, like medical supplies and PPE.
  • Requiring Manufacturing USA Institutes to contract with MEPs in each state to provide defense industrial-base related outreach, technical assistance and workforce development to small and medium-sized manufacturers.

Federal Help

“The New Jersey MEP has been an immense help during the pandemic,” Sherrill in a press release. “My office has worked closely with them to streamline production of PPE and help manufacturers gain access to the supplies, schematics, and equipment they need. These two provisions of the NDAA will strengthen our national security, domestic manufacturing, and production of vital PPE and equipment here in New Jersey.” (ADD

John Kennedy, CEO of New Jersey’s MEP, said they have been “pursuing a national supply chain database for several years” and that “the pandemic has brought the importance of establishing one to the forefront.”

He added: “Sen. Menendez and NJMEP worked together on a bill that would begin and sustain this process in NJ, and thanks to Rep. Sherrill we were now able to get House support for developing one. This would include coordinated efforts to strengthen the Defense Industrial Base, as well as, addressing pandemic preparedness.”

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