Small businesses in Mercer County that have experienced financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to apply for relief funds from the county’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding.
The county would provide up to $500,000 in funds for small businesses that had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have had difficulties obtaining relief through other means such as loans, according to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.
Mercer County had been awarded $71.3 million in ARPA funds.
In December, Mercer County Commissioners approved a resolution that authorizes the search for a consultant to manage the county’s new small business investment program.
“This initiative was built through my relationship with African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s visionary leader, John Harmon,” Hughes said. “Small businesses, especially Black- and Brown-owned small businesses, are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the pandemic, resulting in economic crisis.”
He added that the goal is to bring more stakeholders to the table to support the small businesses in need.
The consulting services contract for the new small business investment programs will run from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2026, according to the resolution.
Once a consultant is in place, any small businesses in Mercer County that qualifies for the relief will be able to apply for the allocated funds from the county, Hughes said.
“I encourage you to consider the many small businesses in Mercer, some of which may be only a short distance from your home or office,” he said. “Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, more of that dollar spent is reinvested into the community.”
In the United States, according to a 2022 CNBC report, small business owners in a survey said the biggest challenge they face coming out of the pandemic has been revenue. The second biggest challenge has been inflation costs.