The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is expected to fully approve and roll out $10 million of relief grants for businesses damaged by Hurricane Ida last week.
Under the state aid, businesses with up to 50 employees that can demonstrate physical damage they suffered from Ida can receive grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 from the NJEDA.
The organization’s board meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 8. After the grant program is approved it can then fully roll out the grant program. Landlords and home-based businesses are not eligible for this round of funding.
“NJEDA staff is prepared … to act quickly to assist businesses experiencing the destructiveness of Ida,” reads a statement last week from Tim Sullivan, who heads the state agency.
Businesses that are eligible have to show documentation of the damages they suffered at their commercial space, and prove financial need for fixing them and for handling business interruption brought about by Ida.
“Small biz owners impacted by Ida: please remember to document your damages and repairs/expenses as best you can. Pictures, receipts etc,” Sullivan tweeted on Sept. 2. “It will help with insurance *and* any assistance programs.”
Small biz owners impacted by Ida: please remember to document your damages and repairs/expenses as best you can. Pictures, receipts etc. It will help with insurance *and* any assistance programs.
— Tim Sullivan (@timsullivan510) September 2, 2021
He noted the roughly 80,000 grants and other forms of COVID-19 relief that New Jersey businesses have gotten since March 2020. But those pandemic-relief grants were quickly oversubscribed, and the first half an hour of applications sometimes saw thousands more bids from employers than there were funds available.
To that end, the Ida assistance “is designed to get funds to businesses as quickly as possible,” Gov. Phil Murphy’s office noted on Sept. 3, “but is considered an initial step while larger-scale programs, likely funded with federal emergency assistance programs, are developed.”
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden approved emergency declaration for six New Jersey counties – Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset – making businesses and residents based there eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Biden is visiting New Jersey today, where he will tour flood damage in Manville alongside Murphy.
While officials in those six counties praised the move, it’s nonetheless drawn the ire of local officials based in places like Essex and Hudson counties, which suffered considerable damage from Ida and did not receive FEMA emergency declaration.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop estimated $35 million in infrastructure damage alone from Ida. “This is just the estimate for damage to city infrastructure [and] not including millions in personal damage to homes/businesses,” he tweeted on Sept. 6.
Our preliminary estimate for damage to #JerseyCity infrastructure from Ida is $35M. This is just the estimate for damage to city infrastructure + not including millions in personal damage to homes/businesses. We’ll continue to push for the federal help JC should be included on
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) September 6, 2021
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVncenzo likewise lamented the decision, saying Essex County was “forgotten by FEMA.”
“The storm was indiscriminate in how it destroyed businesses and residences, flooded entire downtown areas, buckled roads, and took lives,” he said Sept. 6. Four people in Essex County were killed by the storm, according to the governor’s office.
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat based in Essex County, said she had been pressing FEMA to expand emergency declaration to Essex and other counties.
“[S]ome of the worst hit towns were in Essex,” she tweeted. “FEMA needs to expedite their work to bring desperately needed resources to counties like Essex, who are suffering so much damage in the aftermath of Ida.”
It’s critical we get FEMA disaster relief to our communities as quickly as possible. While I was relived to see Passaic County included in the recent declaration, some of the worst hit towns were in Essex. I stand with @GovMurphy & @Joe_D_EssexExec asking for immediate relief.
— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@RepSherrill) September 6, 2021
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, R-21st District, was critical that the emergency declaration did not include Union and Morris counties.
Murphy, Kean and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-21st District, toured flood-damaged Cranford on Sept. 3, and Murphy stopped at Elizabeth, the capital of Union County, that same day.
“I’ve been touring Morris and Union counties and meeting with homeowners and business owners who suffered devastating flood damage as a result of Ida,” Kean said.
“It’s clear they have the same urgent need for federal support as the six New Jersey counties that have already been declared major disaster areas.”