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Middletown launches program to assist operators of small businesses

MIDDLETOWN – Officials in Middletown have launched a program that will provide financial assistance to small businesses in the municipality that have been affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

During a press conference on Oct. 15, officials announced the launch of the Middletown Economic Relief Program (MERP), which will offer up to $15,000 to eligible businesses in the township.

The program’s funding, which is more than $400,000, was provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and seeks to help business operators who are facing a financial strain from the pandemic’s impact.

Mayor Tony Perry, Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone and U.S. Congressman Chris Smith spoke at the event.

Perry said he wanted to notify the community about MERP, which he described as a program that will give something back to the small businesses that support Middletown.

“We understand the impact the coronavirus has had on small businesses. Think about everything small businesses give to us. They make Middletown a great community, a great place to live and raise a family, and we are here to help them,” the mayor said.

Arnone said Monmouth County has received $108 million in federal funding to deal with the pandemic’s financial impact and he credited municipalities such as Middletown for ensuring that the money will not go to waste.

“We spend that money on great places like Middletown. Our ultimate goal is to partner with our municipalities. What better partner do we have than our biggest municipality? Middletown is the backbone of our success,” Arnone said.

Smith described Middletown’s economic assistance program as true leadership and part of a bridge that will allow the community to return to a life that existed before the pandemic struck New Jersey in March and continues to this day.

“There will be a point where the coronavirus becomes a difficult memory. This program is one of the reasons why we will get through it,” the congressman told those in attendance at the press conference.

Perry said MERP has been created to help all eligible businesses in Middletown.

“We are set to help our residents and businesses. We don’t care where you live or who you employ. We want you here in Middletown. We want you to use the $15,000. The American Dream will live past this (pandemic) and businesses like you are why,” the mayor told the business operators who were present for the announcement of the initiative.

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