State lets businesses pre-register for $200M in upcoming COVID relief

Daniel J. Munoz//May 27, 2021

State lets businesses pre-register for $200M in upcoming COVID relief

Daniel J. Munoz//May 27, 2021

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is allowing businesses to pre-register for $200 million of COVID-relief grants currently moving through the state Legislature.

Gov. Phil Murphy and several top state lawmakers announced their intention to approve this latest round of stimulus for businesses as they embark on reopenings coming out of 15 months of pandemic closures and restrictions.

“We’ve seen tens-of-thousands of small business owners in New Jersey benefit from this grant program offered by the NJEDA since it was initially launched in April of last year, so we’re very grateful to receive this additional funding that will help us fulfill many more requests for financial assistance,” reads a May 26 statement from NJEDA head Tim Sullivan.

The state agency is in the midst of an $85 million round of grant funding to help businesses stay afloat.

Sullivan said on Twitter that there have so far been more than 3,000 approvals totaling $35 million as of the morning of May 26. There were already 30,000 businesses that pre-registered for grants, and they would not be required to do anything to qualify for this new round of funding.

This new round of pre-registration, which opened on May 26 and runs through 5 p.m. on June 30, means businesses “that missed the previous deadline to apply have another chance,” the NJEDA said in a statement.

Grants are capped at $20,000, and the total amount awarded varies based on the number of full-time employees. Business owners have to show that their operations have suffered because of these past 15 months of pandemic closures and restrictions.

Under the agreement between Murphy and top state Democrats, the NJEDA would set aside $20 million for bars and restaurants, $120 million for micro-businesses, $10 million for child care providers, and $50 million for businesses with up to 50 employees.

There would be $25 million for startups, and $10 million for the “Sustain and Serve NJ” program, which effectively pays restaurants to prepare meals for some of the state’s most in-need residents. But those two programs will be separate from these new grants, according to an NJEDA spokesperson.

The bills setting up those funds moved through the state Assembly last week.

NJEDA officials estimate that since last April, they’ve dolled out $259 million in pandemic relief to 55,000 businesses across the state.

Like prior rounds of funding, the new aid would come out of the state’s allotment under the Trump-era Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic business closures and ensuing restrictions, businesses have relied on billions of dollars in state and federal aid, most grants, or forgivable or low-interest loans.

Under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved 157,405 forgivable loans totaling $17.3 billion in 2020, and in 2021 approved 134,362 loans totaling roughly $8 billion.