The state has added another $15 million of CARES Act funding to the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program being administered by the Economic Development Authority, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday.
The funding will be added to phase 2 of the program — increasing that total to $65 million. Phase 1 of the program allocated $5 million.
EDA head Tim Sullivan said companies seeking relief do not need to fill out an additional money. This funding will enable the EDA to fulfill more of the applications it already has on hand to oversubscribed program.
Murphy, speaking in North Brunswick, said the additional funds show the state’s commitment to small businesses.
“More New Jerseyans work for a small business than anywhere else,” Murphy said. “Seeing both businesses and employees emerge from this pandemic strong and ready for the times ahead is critical to the success of our overall restart and recovery.”
Murphy said these EDA grants help fill in gaps.
“We knew that there were businesses for whom federal pandemic relief would not be enough and that there would be other business owners who simply would not qualify,” he said. “We sought to help fill a void before our small businesses fell into a void.”
While the EDA will now directly distribute $70 million in grants through this program, it actually oversees the distribution of $100 million — as Passaic, Ocean and Essex counties have asked them to administer funds they have set aside for small businesses in their areas.
Sullivan said the goal is to help stabilize and support as many small business as possible to get through this difficult part of the crisis — but also to do the investment that they need to be resilient in the face of the months and longer to come.
“This will allow us to say yes to more of the applications that are in hand — particularly in places where there wasn’t direct money provided to counties to support small business,” he said.
“So, this money will go fast, and it will go far.”
Sullivan stressed the fact that the EDA is aiming to help those who so often have been overlooked before.
“We’ve had a really intentional focus to make sure it’s the businesses that need it most and have historically struggled to access not just capital generally, but specifically government-supported programs, particularly minority- and women-owned firms.”
Sullivan said 20% of the money that already has gone into phase 2 has gone to businesses that self-identify as minority-owned and 24% to those that self-identify as women-owned.
“We know that these are firms — that even in good times — struggle to access capital as much as the rest of the economy,” he said.