NJEDA opens $45M grant for veterans orgs, business groups

Daniel J. Munoz//June 8, 2020

NJEDA opens $45M grant for veterans orgs, business groups

Daniel J. Munoz//June 8, 2020

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will start accepting applications Tuesday morning for a $45 million pot of money meant to offer a lifeline to struggling businesses that have taken massive hits amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Now, the agency is expected to increase just who can receive those grants, which are capped at $10,000, rather than the previous $5,000.

As of its board meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday – an hour after the applications go live – veterans support organizations, as well as local chambers of commerce, and business and industry associations, are officially eligible for the grant money.

Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the NJEDA, said that any of these groups, legally categorized as 501(c) nonprofit organizations, can still apply for grant money once applications open up, even though the “change in eligibility is contingent upon the board’s approval,” according to a statement from the Authority.

Tim Sullivan, CEO, New Jersey Economic Development Authority

“The proposed expansion of eligibility for the Small Business Emergency Grant Program will ensure the continuity of crucial resources and services that sustain our communities,” said Sullivan. “We encourage all 501(c) organizations interested in pursuing grants to apply when the application goes live at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 9.”

Tuesday’s grant applications make up Phase 2 of the NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The Trump administration awarded $50 million for the NJEDA to use, $5 million of which is going toward applicants waitlisted from the first round.

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the agency already posted sample applications on its website.

State Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11th District.

“Veterans services organizations provide a safety net for men and women who have sacrificed for our country as they return to their everyday lives,” Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11th District, who chairs the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a June 6 statement from the NJEDA.

Emphasis under the program is given to businesses located in one of the 715 census tracts across the state that were considered to be one of the state’s 169 opportunity zones – a federal tax break program meant to help some of the nation’s poorest communities. The state already maintains a map of those 715 potential zones.

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.

Employers need to have been in operation on Feb. 15, taken a hit by the pandemic, and make a “best effort” to not furlough or layoff any workers.

The first round of funding – $5 million – ran out just over an hour after applications went live in April. Roughly 6,000 applicants were waitlisted to the next batch of $5 million – though it is not immediately clear if that money has been awarded or paid out.

As of June 1, a total of $8.5 million had been awarded to 2,605 local businesses up and down the state, including bars and restaurants, spas, hair and nail salons, florists, motels and hotels, delis, liquor stores and dry-cleaners. Of that, nearly $6.1 million has been paid out.

Demand soared for the NJEDA’s $10 million small business loan program, with 3,260 businesses applying for a combined $228.7 million from the state’s much smaller pot of money. It is not immediately clear how much of that has been awarded to date.