Bipartisan legislation providing the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) with $300 million for grants and loans to help small businesses and nonprofits rebound from the COVID-19 crisis was introduced yesterday by Senator Dawn Addiego, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senators Vin Gopal, Declan O’Scanlon, and Michael Testa, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean.
“Small businesses and nonprofits face difficult challenges as they try to decide how and when to reopen, rehire and ramp up to full operation as we slowly come out of this terrible pandemic,” said Senator Addiego (D-Burlington/Camden/Atlantic), the bill’s principal sponsor. “The $300 million we are providing the NJEDA for grants and loans will preserve and expand jobs, help small businesses and nonprofits recover, and restore the vitality of our downtown business districts.”
The bill would provide aid not only to small businesses and nonprofits that lost revenue during the economic shutdowns and slowdowns caused by the coronavirus crisis, but also to those whose business opening plans were disrupted by COVID-19 and those who fill vacant storefronts or under-utilized space with new operations.
“Small business is the backbone of our communities and the biggest source of new job creation,” said Senate President Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This $300 million investment will speed up our economic recovery from the pandemic, prevent more businesses and nonprofits from closing, and create jobs for workers who have been on the unemployment rolls for almost a year.”
“This legislation will be particularly important to the restaurant, hospitality, and tourism industries that have been hit hardest by the shutdowns last spring and the continuing restrictions imposed by the pandemic that have crippled these businesses for the past 11 months,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “These businesses are going to need help when they try to ramp up to full operation again in what is bound to be an uncertain economy as we come out of the pandemic.”
New Jersey Business & Industry Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Emigholz said NJBIA has worked closely with the Legislature on this bill, and strongly supports it. Securing this funding for struggling small businesses will be one of NJBIA’s budget priorities this budget season, Emigholz said. Funding can come from using New Jersey’s stronger than anticipated revenues, potentially unspent federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES) monies and/or through new federal relief funding coming from the Biden administration that may be even larger than the CARES appropriation.
Republican senators said the $300 million plan was essential to assist struggling small businesses and non-profits whose recovery is critical to New Jersey’s economic growth.
“After nearly a year of operating restrictions, our restaurants and Main Street shops are barely staying afloat. They’re begging for help,” said Senator O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “I’m glad we now have a bipartisan effort in the Senate to provide the emergency funding our small businesses and nonprofits will need to survive this crisis. We can’t get this done soon enough.”
“Small businesses and nonprofits across New Jersey have faced some of the greatest hardships during the pandemic and received some of the least support,” said Senator Testa (R-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “They’ve been forced to fight for scraps through a patchwork of underfunded State relief efforts. It hasn’t been enough. This bipartisan effort to greatly increase funding for emergency grants and loans is a major step in the right direction.”
“The funding we have proposed will enable the EDA to provide $300 million of emergency grants and loans to help New Jersey’s small businesses, nonprofits, and their employees to survive the economic impact of COVID-19,” said Senator Kean (R-Union/Morris/Somerset). “With the State sitting on a growing multi-billion surplus, there’s no budgetary reason to oppose this bipartisan measure. We sincerely hope that our colleagues in the General Assembly and Governor Murphy will join us in advancing this critically important initiative.”
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