As NJ business relief nears $8B, federal grant money runs dry

Daniel J. Munoz//May 6, 2021//

As NJ business relief nears $8B, federal grant money runs dry

Daniel J. Munoz//May 6, 2021//

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As New Jersey businesses reach a combined $7.9 billion in federal relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, the funds paying for the Trump-era program have officially run out.

Now, the program has an uncertain future, and businesses are instead turning their attention toward a duo of Biden-era COVID-relief programs: One for restaurants and another for theaters and other live performance venues.

The federal Small Business Administration said it will continue paying out existing PPP loans. But new applications will be funded via an $8 billion pot of money from Community Financial Institutions, which are geared toward minority borrowers.

Established in March last year under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the PPP loans are meant to be forgiven if recipients use the funds to cover the costs of payroll.

According to the SBA, the federal agency awarded $780 billion in loans to roughly 10.7 million businesses, of which 132,886 establishments are from New Jersey.

Other relief programs are coming out of Washington and accepting applications. Both the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program are run by the SBA and were part of the Biden team’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan approved in March.

Applications went live this Monday for the $28.6 billion program helping pandemic-hit restaurants and bars, and will only be open these next three weeks for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or other economically disadvantaged groups.

In the first two days that applications were open, the restaurant relief program saw applications from 186,200 bars, restaurants and other eateries, according to a May 5 statement from the White House.

Late last month, the SBA opened applications for the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, meant to help theaters and other live venues slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic and related closures.

There have so far been 22,538 applications, either fully submitted or in various stages of completion, most of them from live venues and performing arts centers, according to the SBA.

Under another Trump-era COVID-relief program – the Economic Injury Disaster Loans – the SBA awarded a combined 127,014 of loans totaling $7.6 billion.

At the state level, officials are in the midst of rolling out $85 million in business relief grants. That’s on top of the $146 million of state grants already awarded in the past year by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Applications went live this week for those programs.