NEW JERSEY – An additional $100 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support New Jersey residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to officials.
The bulk of the money, $70 million, will be distributed to restaurants, microbusinesses, and other small businesses through Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.
“Small businesses and the people they employ are the backbone of New Jersey’s economy, yet they have borne a disproportionate share of the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “If we are to emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than we were before, it is incumbent on us to support them in any way possible. This additional funding helps us accomplish that goal.”
An additional $10 million will be used to help small businesses purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the NJEDA Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program; $15 million will go to support renters through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on many vulnerable New Jersey families and keeping a roof over their heads is our top priority,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “The additional support we are providing will extend relief to tenants so they can focus their limited resources on staying safe and secure.”
The remaining $5 million will be used to provide relief for New Jersey residents facing food insecurity. These funds will build off of the $20 million announced in July that the Department of Agriculture (NJDA) used to support Emergency Feeding Organizations, which have been supporting food banks, food pantries, hunger relief centers, and soup kitchens that provide food to those in need.
“The coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated existing hunger issues and has created new struggles for families who have lost jobs and wages,” said NJ Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. “New Jersey’s food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens will use this additional funding to help expand their capacity for these continually increase demands.”
Launched in early April, the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program provides grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, over 19,000 small businesses have benefited from the program.
“Supporting small businesses is vital to ensuring New Jersey’s economy withstands the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is well-positioned for a strong recovery. The Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program and the PPE Access Program are powerful tools that will help thousands of business owners and employees face the challenges the pandemic has created,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Governor Murphy’s strong leadership throughout this outbreak and commitment to supporting these critical programs will provide immediate relief to the business owners and workers who need it most while continuing our progress toward a stronger, fairer recovery.”
Phase 3 of the Grant Program expands eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive. To ensure funds flow to businesses that need them most, Phase 3 includes set-asides for grants to restaurants and micro-businesses. $35 million will be dedicated to support businesses classified as “Food Services and Drinking Places” under NAICS code 722 and $15 million will be directed to support “micro-businesses” that have five or fewer employees. The remaining $20 million will be available to support any eligible business.
The $100 million announced Tuesday will supplement the $115 million in CARES Act funds already allocated for economic development and re-employment programs and the $100 million allocated for housing assistance programs. On Friday, the Department of Human Services announced its new Housing Assistance Program, which will use $12 million from the CARES Act to provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship due to COVID-19. More information on that program is available here.
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This article originally appeared on the Mendham-Chester Patch