Sullivan: Extra $15M for EDA grant program is mainly for businesses in 12 counties that didn’t get direct CARES Act money

    Gov. Phil Murphy was thrilled to announce Tuesday that the state was adding $15 million to monies that can be awarded through the Economic Development Authority‘s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant program.

    What he didn’t say was this: Much of that additional money will go to ensuring that small businesses in the 12 counties that were not allotted federal CARES Act money directly will have their grant request fulfilled.

    “That’s the plan,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said.

    The initiative cannot be formally announced until the EDA’s board approves the idea at its meeting in early August, but Sullivan said he is confident the idea will be authorized.

    “We’ll finalize the details at our board meeting, but my expectation is that the intention is to use the money to fund most of the backlog for the 12 counties that didn’t get a direct CARES Act allocation,” he said.

    That’s good news for businesses in these 12 counties:

    • Atlantic;
    • Burlington;
    • Cape May;
    • Cumberland;
    • Gloucester;
    • Hunterdon;
    • Mercer;
    • Morris;
    • Salem;
    • Somerset;
    • Sussex;
    • Warren.

    The federal government allocated direct assistance to counties in the U.S. that met certain criteria, including having an overall population of more than 500,000. That’s why Bergen, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic and Union counties received direct aid.

    Many of those counties used this aid to fund small business grants. And some (Essex, Ocean and Passaic) are administrating the grant program through the EDA.

    The challenge, Sullivan said, is making sure each small business gets a grant — but that it comes either directly from the county or from the EDA. With the additional $15 million, Sullivan is confident all small businesses will get a grant.

    “We think the $15 million will go almost all the way, if not all the way, on all the eligible backlog in those 12 counties,” he said.

    Sullivan said the EDA has been able to award about half of the money it has been allotted — and he said it is working to process the other half quickly.

    “We want to get this money out,” he said. “We know how much it’s needed.”

    Sullivan said companies who have applied, but have not received a grant fall into three categories: They’ve been approved but not processed; they have been asked to provide more information;or they have been denied due to a failure to meet eligibility requirements.

    Sullivan said companies unsure of their status can check the application site for an update.

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