NORTH BRUNSWICK – Speaking in front of A-List Hair Studio in North Brunswick, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on July 28 that an additional $15 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding has been made available to New Jersey small businesses struggling with the pandemic.
This funding is in addition to the $100 million the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is currently administering through programs to COVID-19-impacted businesses.
The $15 million in CARES Act funds announced will bolster the NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides grant funding for small businesses struggling with COVID-19-related challenges. Launched in early April with $10 million of NJEDA funds, the program initially offered grants of up to $5,000 to a narrowly-targeted set of small businesses that included restaurants and in-person retail establishments, according to the statement.
In early June, the NJEDA used $50 million in CARES Act funds to expand Phase 1 of the grant program by $5 million and launch Phase 2 of the grant program with $45 million. Phase 2 expanded the program to a significantly broader range of businesses and increased the maximum grant award to $10,000. At that time, Essex, Ocean and Passaic counties also provided $10 million each in CARES Act dollars to support additional grants to businesses in those counties. To ensure equitable distribution of funds, the NJEDA set aside one-third of the CARES Act funding to support qualified businesses located in one of the 715 census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone. Targeting these census tracts will help to ensure funding goes to communities of color that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, according to the statement.
To date, more than 10,600 businesses have been approved for grants totaling more than $44 million. The program is currently oversubscribed and not accepting applications, but the NJEDA intends to use the CARES Act funding announced today to fulfill a significant portion of the applications already in the pipeline, particularly where direct federal funding was not provided to counties, according to the statement.
“Supporting small businesses has been the centerpiece of the NJEDA’s COVID-19 response efforts. We are committed to doing all we can to help them adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and prepare for a strong recovery,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said in the statement. “Using additional CARES Act funding to expand our programs will provide much-needed relief for businesses who have been struggling and for employees whose jobs have been at risk.”
The announcement was made at A-List Hair Studio, located on Route 130 in North Brunswick, which is co-owned by April Scelsa and Anna Pluhowski. A-List received a $10,000 grant during Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Grant Program.
“With the help of the NJEDA, despite being closed for over three months, we were able to open our doors again,” Scelsa said in the statement. “The grant we received allowed us to provide the PPE we needed to keep ourselves, our staff, and our guests safe as we reopen, and to keep employees on the payroll for longer than we were able to otherwise.”