Fighting to Save Small Businesses, Jobs during COVID-19 Crisis

Report to Members

New Jersey small businesses know how to rise to a challenge, but their collective fortitude is being tested by the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. At this writing, we are entering Week 2 under executive orders that have closed or significantly curtailed operations at thousands of New Jersey businesses to slow the spread of a growing pandemic threatening to overwhelm our healthcare system.

We have heard from thousands of NJBIA members and applaud those who have been able to keep their employees on staff and their customers satisfied. However, too many small businesses operating on slim profit margins and scarce reserves have had no option but to close or lay off workers. In one week, New Jersey recorded a 1,546% increase in unemployment claims.

Michele Siekerka

Michele Siekerka, president and CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA)

For all New Jersey small business owners rightfully concerned about how much longer they can survive under coronavirus restrictions, please know NJBIA has been working closely with the state Economic Development Authority, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and our state’s Congressional delegation to make your concerns heard. We have also put together a coalition representing a wide range of New Jersey business groups and are working as a unified voice on your behalf.

The most tangible result so far is the $2 trillion federal financial stimulus package enacted March 27 that will provide direct relief to individuals, businesses and state governments. Now that this federal funding is on the way, we urge our state lawmakers to act quickly to provide our small businesses with the temporary and longer-term resources needed to survive.

 Specifically, NJBIA is asking for a short-term cash infusion for small businesses struggling to meet payroll and pay their bills, as well as regulatory relief so employers can focus on helping clients and employees. We hope state policymakers can set up the infrastructure for these programs quickly so that we are ready to roll as soon as possible. That immediacy is what the business community needs.

Additionally, NJBIA is advocating for policies that will help our economy recover as quickly as possible once this public health crisis has passed. Legislation giving businesses more flexibility to write off coronavirus-related losses, making sure employers’ unemployment insurance taxes are not dramatically increased, and loosening or extending many development and labor rules all would help New Jersey businesses recover.

These actions would build on steps already taken by the NJ EDA, which has approved seven grant, loan and support programs providing $75 million to help an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 small and mid-size New Jersey businesses and nonprofits hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. NJBIA is urging all interested business owners to quickly take inventory of all necessary evidence of cash flow and income over the past year, including receipts and invoices, and to connect with your accountants in order to apply.

While these EDA grants and loans alone will not be able to make our businesses whole, they are an important first step on the road to recovery and we urge small businesses to take advantage of them. You can find out more at NJBIA’s Coronavirus Resource Page on our website There you will find links to multiple state, federal and legal resources and can ask NJBIA’s Government Affairs experts your questions.

Being a proprietor in New Jersey has never been for the weak of heart. Now it’s just a matter of outlasting this crisis, taking stock, planning, executing and finding the courage to continue.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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