Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday a commitment of at least $60 million in additional CARES Act funding to fulfill grants under Phase 3 of the NJ Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.
This funding is in addition to $70 million in federal funds already allocated for the current phase of the program and will enable the NJEDA to fulfill grants for the entire pipeline of eligible businesses that applied for Phase 3 funding prior to the application deadline.
Without this supplemental funding, approximately 13,000 of the nearly 22,000 businesses that applied for Phase 3 grants would have been declined based on the program being oversubscribed.
“COVID-19 is above all else a severe health crisis, but its economic impact has been incredibly difficult for New Jersey’s small business community,” Murphy said.
“Small business owners have been diligent in their efforts to protect the health of their employees and customers, and they deserve our support. This new round of funding will help ensure that many more businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.”
NJEDA’s Relief Grants
The NJEDA’s COVID-19 relief programs provides a variety of resources for firms of all sizes, including grants for small businesses, zero-interest loans, support for private-sector lenders and CDFIs, and funding for entrepreneurs. Its largest COVID-19 relief program is the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides grants to companies impacted by the pandemic.
To ensure equitable distribution of funds, the NJEDA set aside one-third of the funding for this program to support qualified businesses located in one of the 715 Census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone. This targeting has helped to ensure minority- and women-owned businesses that were hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic impact were able to get the support they need.
To date, more than 22,000 small businesses have been approved for grants worth a total of more than $64.9 million through Phases 1 and 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The average grant award has been roughly $3,000, which indicates the average approved business has three full-time equivalent employees.
Phase 3 significantly expands eligibility for the Grant Program and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive. Any business or non-profit located in New Jersey, including home-based businesses, with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) is eligible to receive grant funding during Phase 3, including businesses that received funding in previous phases of the program.
To ensure funding goes to businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, Phase 3 sets aside funding for restaurants, micro-businesses, and businesses based in the state’s 715 Opportunity Zone-eligible Census tracts. The application period for Phase 3 grants closed earlier this week, and to date, 873 businesses have been approved for grants totaling more than $10.9 million.
NJEDA’s CEO Speaks
“The NJEDA shares Gov. Murphy’s commitment to supporting small businesses, and we are delighted to be able to assist many more deserving businesses than anticipated,” said NJEDA’s CEO Tim Sullivan. “We continue to focus all available resources on processing grants and getting funding into the hands of hardworking small business owners as quickly as possible.”
Sullivan said that Gov. Murphy has now allocated more than $250 million of funding to support small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on ensuring those dollars get where they are needed most:restaurants, and minority- and women-owned firms.