New Jersey lawmakers recently announced $100 million in additional Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support New Jersey residents and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 Gov. Phil Murphy in a press statement. “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 majority of the money, $70 million in total, 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.
Helping Small Businesses
The 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, with $35 million dedicated to businesses classified as “Food Services and Drinking Places” and $15 million to “micro-businesses” that have five or fewer employees. The remaining $20 million will be available to support any eligible business.
The rest of the $100 million outlay spending includes $10 million to help small businesses purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) through the NJEDA Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program; $15 million to renters through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program; and $5 million to support food banks and other hunger relief efforts.
The $15 million in rent relief for New Jersey tenants pays landlords directly for up to six months. The funding will cover rent incurred from Aug. 1 through Dec. 30. Payments per household will depend on a variety of factors such as location, rental market, family size, and average per household income.
“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 Sen. Bob Menendez. “This $100 million fund…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.”
Officials noted the $10 million to support the the Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program is being accomplished theory a public-private partnership enabling businesses with 100 employees or fewer to receive grants in the form of automatic discounts on PPE purchased through NJEDA-approved “Designated Vendors.”
“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,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “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.
The remaining $5 million will be used to provide relief for New Jerseyans facing food insecurity. These funds will build off of the $20 million announced in July that the Department of Agriculture (NJDA) used to support Emergency Feeding Organizations, which have been supporting food banks, food pantries, hunger relief centers, and soup kitchens that provide food to those in need.