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Christie Administration Awards Over 100 Grants to Sandy-Impacted Businesses in May

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) announces significant progress during May in the approval of Stronger NJ Business Grants.

During May, 101 businesses were approved for Stronger NJ Business Grants totaling over $5.3 million, the largest number of approvals in any month since the launch of the program in May of 2013. This increase demonstrates the impact of the “team” approach the EDA implemented in February to streamline the application and review process and improve continuity of the relationship between applicants and business advisors.  The team approach ensures that when an applicant needs to reach a business advisor for assistance, someone who is familiar with his or her application is available.

“The Stronger NJ Business Grant application process is subject to many federal requirements, which can make it challenging for both applicants and the EDA staff processing applications,” said Michele Brown, EDA Chief Executive Officer.  “Through careful analysis of the process and really listening to applicant feedback, our team found ways to ease the burden on applicants, and move applications along in a more timely fashion.”

Recently approved grants include businesses from impacted communities in both North and South Jersey, include Eye Contact Vision Center in Newark, Parlay Studios in Jersey City, Bain’s Hardware in Sea Bright, and The Boat House Restaurant in Beach Haven.

In addition to the Stronger NJ Business Grants approved in May, Stronger NJ Business Loans totaling over $4.3 million were approved, including loans for over $2.1 million to Jakeabob’s Bay, the iconic Union Beach restaurant destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, and over $336,000 to The Original Kohr’s Frozen Custard, with three locations in Seaside Heights.

Another factor that has helped increase momentum of approvals is a series of workshops during which EDA business advisors meet with Stronger NJ applicants that have not yet completed their applications to help them identify and gather the remaining paperwork to complete their submissions. According to Brown, the goal of these workshops is to help expedite the process and ensure that additional work is not placed on the businesses.

Applicants are contacted via telephone prior to the workshops to schedule appointments and are informed of any documentation or information needed to complete their application.  Since May 6th, workshops have been held in Seaside Heights, Beach Haven, Sea Bright, Ocean City, Atlantic City, Manasquan, Moonachie, and Lavallette, with assistance provided to over 70 businesses. Additional workshops will be held in June in towns where a need is identified.

To date, more than $55.8 million in grants and loans has been approved for more than 530 businesses.  Additionally, the EDA has recommended the approval of eleven municipalities for Streetscape grants totaling $10 million under the Stronger NJ Neighborhood and Community Revitalization (NCR) program.  Also under NCR, the EDA has provided $2.5 million in grants to five Community Development Financial Institutions offering recovery loans to Sandy-impacted small businesses, and $5 million to Seaside Heights and Seaside Park for boardwalk demolition and debris removal.

The Stronger NJ Business programs are funded through New Jersey’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Similar to other Sandy relief grant programs, there are strict federal eligibility requirements to which the EDA and applicants must comply.

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