New Jersey’s Small businesses that have taken an economic hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recession can apply for state aid grants up to $10,000 beginning at 9 a.m. on June 9.
Application information was posted online Tuesday morning – a week before it is scheduled to go live – to grant businesses time to put together necessary paperwork and other documents.
This round of funds, $45 million from the federal government, is overseen by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Grants are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Another $5 million would go to applicants who were waitlisted after the first round of grant funding.
There are roughly 6,000 businesses that would be eligible for that $5 million.
The initial pot of money for the program was $5 million, which maxed out an hour after applications went live in April. More than $5.5 million – some of that money from other funding sources – was distributed to 1,651 separate businesses, while 1,673 were denied.
Another 28,000 applicants from that round would have to apply for money from the $45 million pot of money.
The total $50 million comes out of the landmark federal stimulus bill approved in March – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.
With the economy in a state of suspended animation to stop the spread of the virus, and restrictions only now being rolled back, tens of thousands of businesses in New Jersey have seen their revenues shattered.
“The coronavirus pandemic is forcing all of us to grapple with unprecedented challenges, but small business owners and their employees are undoubtedly among the most severely impacted members of our communities,” Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority said in a Tuesday statement.
“The expanded program will allow us to serve thousands more businesses in need and our focus on equity will ensure it benefits the communities COVID-19 has hit the hardest,” he added.
A third of the money – $15 million – will go toward the states that were eligible to become opportunity zones, a federal tax break program that offers tax cuts and exemptions for steering investment dollars into lower-income and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. That’s to “make sure that some money goes to historically underserved communities” such as women, veterans and people of color, Sullivan said.
New Jersey has 169 such zones spanning all 21 counties, but there were 715 census tracts spanning 179 towns and cities that were considered by the Murphy administration as potential zones.
Opportunity zone or not, businesses must have been in operation on Feb. 15, show that they’ve taken an economic hit from the outbreak, and have bills and other expenses that could not be paid without the grant money.
The business must pledge that they will not layoff or furlough any employees through six months after the end of the current public health emergency.
Eligibility is limited to companies with no more than 25 employees. “Home-based businesses and sole proprietorships,” for example architects and plumbers, can now apply for grants.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:32 p.m. EST on June 2, 2020, to include the work “not,” which was initially missing from the following sentence: The business must pledge that they will not layoff or furlough any employees through six months after the end of the current public health emergency.