Gov. Phil Murphy has announced a commitment of at least $60 million in additional Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to fulfillment of grants under Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.
This funding is in addition to $70 million in federal funds already allocated for the current phase of the program and will enable the NJEDA to fulfill grants for the entire pipeline of eligible businesses that applied for Phase 3 funding prior to the application deadline, according to a Nov. 11 press release from Murphy’s office.
Without this supplemental funding, approximately 13,000 of the nearly 22,000 businesses that applied for Phase 3 grants would have been declined based on the program being oversubscribed, according to the press release.
“COVID-19 is above all else a severe health crisis, but its economic impact has been incredibly difficult for New Jersey’s small business community,” Murphy said. “Small business owners have been diligent in their efforts to protect the health of their employees and customers, and they deserve our support. This new round of funding will help ensure that many more businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.”
The NJEDA’s suite of COVID-19 relief programs provides a variety of resources for businesses of all sizes, including grants for small businesses, zero-interest loans, support for private sector lenders and CDFIs, and funding for entrepreneurs, according to the press release.
Its largest COVID-19 relief program is the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
To ensure equitable distribution of funds, the NJEDA set aside one-third of the funding for this program to support qualified businesses located in one of the 715 Census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone.
This targeting has 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, according to the press release.
To date, more than 22,000 small businesses have been approved for grants worth a total of more than $64.9 million through phases 1 and 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The average grant award has been about $3,000, which indicates the average approved business has three full-time equivalent employees.
Phase 3 significantly expands eligibility for the grant program and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive, according to the press release.
Any business or nonprofit located in New Jersey, including home-based businesses, with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) is eligible to receive grant funding during Phase 3, including businesses that received funding in previous phases of the program.
To ensure funding goes to businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, Phase 3 sets aside funding for restaurants, micro-businesses and businesses based in the state’s 715 Opportunity Zone-eligible Census tracts, according to the press release.
The application period for Phase 3 grants has closed, and to date, 873 businesses have been approved for grants totaling more than $10.9 million, according to the press release.
In addition to the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, the NJEDA administers technical assistance and low-cost financing programs for small and mid-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. More information about these programs and other state support is available at https://covid19.nj.gov