The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has provided more than $165 million in COVID-19 relief to more than 30,000 businesses since March 2020. The Authority’s announcement comes in advance of the kickoff of most businesses’ holiday seasons, which begins with Thanksgiving and the accompanying retail-oriented holidays Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, my administration has focused on not only addressing the public health crisis the virus has caused but also providing economic support to the thousands of businesses and workers who have been impacted by the pandemic. The NJEDA has been central to these efforts, acting quickly to stand up new programs that have provided millions of dollars to more than 30,000 businesses in communities across our state,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “These efforts have been vital to getting us through the darkest days of the pandemic, and the NJEDA’s ongoing work will help many more businesses overcome the challenges they face today and make a strong recovery.”
“Since March, Governor Murphy has made it a top priority to support small businesses that are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact. NJEDA staff has worked tirelessly to provide relief to more than 30,000 businesses already, and we expect to support thousands more before the end of the year,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “COVID-19 has created an extraordinary and ongoing need for economic relief throughout New Jersey. The NJEDA is committed to doing all we can to meet this need now and to provide the ongoing support businesses and communities need to recover.”
The NJEDA’s suite of COVID-19 relief programs provides a variety of resources for businesses of all sizes, including grants for small businesses, low-interest loans, support for private-sector lenders and CDFIs, and funding for entrepreneurs. The NJEDA’s largest COVID-19 program is the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, 22,390 small businesses have been approved for grants worth a total of more than $65 million through Phases 1 and 2 of the Program. To ensure equitable distribution of funds, during Phase 2 of the program, the NJEDA set aside one-third of the funding for qualified businesses located in one of the 715 Census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone. This targeting helped to ensure minority- and women-owned businesses that were hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic impact were able to get the support they need.
In October, the NJEDA launched Phase 3 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program with $70 million in CARES Act funds. Phase 3 further expanded eligibility to any business or nonprofit located in New Jersey with 50 or fewer employees and further increased the amount of funding businesses could receive. To ensure funds flow to businesses that need them most, the NJEDA targeted Phase 3 grants to restaurants, micro-businesses, and businesses in census tracts that were eligible to be designated as Opportunity Zones. More than 22,000 businesses applied for Phase 3 grants, and in early November, Governor Murphy committed an additional $60 million in CARES Act funds to the program to ensure all eligible applicants receive funding. To date, 9,081 businesses have been approved for grants totaling more than $80 million.
In addition to the targeted support for restaurants included in Phase 3 of the Emergency Assistance Grant Program, the NJEDA recently announced Sustain and Serve NJ, a $2 million grant program that will provide funding to organizations to purchase meals from restaurants that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and distribute the meals at no cost to New Jersey residents.
To help businesses purchase the PPE they need to keep employees and customers safe during the holiday season, the NJEDA launched the NJ Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program. The program offers a 10 percent discount on a curated selection of PPE products to all New Jersey businesses through NJEDA-approved “Designated Vendors,” including Boxed, Office Depot, and Staples. The program also allows businesses with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) to apply for vouchers that provide additional discounts on purchases made through certain Designated Vendors. To date, the NJEDA has awarded vouchers totaling nearly $850,000 to 1,950 businesses.
Another important component of the NJEDA’s COVID-19 relief efforts has been providing low-cost financing options. The Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program provides working capital loans of up to $100,000 to businesses with less than $5 million in revenues, and the Authority has also partnered with six New Jersey-based Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which target at least 60 percent of their financing activities to low- and moderate-income populations or underserved communities. To date, the NJEDA has approved 150 loans worth a combined total of more than $10.3 million through the Emergency Assistance Loan Program and the six partner CDFIs have provided 280 loans worth a total of more than $7 million.
The NJEDA has also supported early-stage innovation economy businesses, which are facing their own unique set of COVID-19-related challenges. The NJ Entrepreneur Support Program encourages continued capital flows to new companies by providing 80 percent loan guarantees for working capital loans to entrepreneurs. To date, this program has supported investments in 12 companies with more than $1.8 million in guarantees.
In addition to financial support, the NJEDA has also provided a variety of technical assistance programs for businesses struggling to adjust to new health and safety guidelines. The Authority partnered with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ), the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, and Rising Tide Capital to provide technical assistance for 447 businesses applying for federal Small Business Administration support. Since then, the Authority has rolled out a number of other initiatives to help businesses adjust to doing business safely during the pandemic, including free business consulting for micro-businesses in Opportunity Zones and training on ecommerce solutions for retail businesses and restaurants. 57 businesses have received support from these programs.
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