A $45 million pot of state aid meant to offer a lifeline to businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession maxed out just over four hours after applications went live Tuesday, with more than 20,000 businesses vying for money.
The threshold was met at 1:11 p.m. according to Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which oversees the program. Applications went live at 9 a.m., and Sullivan said he expects around 16,000 grants to be awarded.
“Eligible applicants before then should be in good shape,” Sullivan tweeted Wednesday morning.
Thirty-eight percent – or roughly 7,600 businesses – applied for the $15 million set aside for establishments located in one of the state’s 715 existing or previously proposed opportunity zones. New Jersey has 169 zones – a federal tax break program meant to lure investment dollars into thousands of the state’s poorest communities.
“A third of funding is reserved for those census tracts, a purposeful effort to reach more minority and women-owned firms,” Sullivan tweeted.
Applications for that portion of the funding are expected to be maxed out as well.
The average applying business had 2.7 employees, Sullivan said, “so this is serving the smallest businesses.”
The EDA rolled out a variety of grant and loan programs in recent months to help businesses ordered to remain closed as part of a now-lifted stay-at-home order and virtual state lockdown intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
A similar program, the Paycheck Protection Program, was enacted at the federal level for aiding businesses caught in the same situation across the nation.
Based on the NJEDA’s grant eligibility calculator, awards would clock in at less than $3,000 per business, even though they’re capped at $10,000.
Online applications are still available, and “submitting your application will ensure that if additional funds become available for this round of grant funding, you may be eligible.”
Some quick stats on the grant application which opened yesterday. We crossed 20k applications (which is a safe estimate for the cutoff for the $45m) at 1:11pm. Eligible applicants before then should be in good shape. Last time we didn’t get much past first 30 min
— Tim Sullivan (@timsullivan510) June 10, 2020
Back in April, the first round of funding ran dry of its $5 million just over an hour after applications went live. As of June 9, a total of $8.5 million have been awarded under that first pot of money 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.
The Trump administration awarded $50 million for the NJEDA to use—$5 million of which is going toward applicants waitlisted from the first round.
As of Monday evening, the NJEDA awarded $3.4 million in grants from that pot of money—$2.8 million has been paid out while another 737 applications were under review, according to NJEDA spokesperson Virginia Pellerin.
Demand also 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.
Twenty loan applications were approved for a total of $1.06 million, seven of which were closed totaling $443,000 and nine of which are in the process of closing, totaling $469,000, Pellerin said. Another 32 applications are being underwritten.