Murphy announces more than $100M in grants, aid to small businesses, struggling families

Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans Tuesday to use $112 million of the state’s CARES Act money to give grants to small businesses and help support struggling families.

The largest chunk, $70 million, will be distributed by the state’s Economic Development Authority Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program:

  • $35 million to the food service industry (places defined as “food services and drinking places”);
  • $15 million to microbusinesses (those with five employees or fewer);
  • $20 million to replenish the EDA’s existing Small Business Emergency Grant program;

Other grants include:

  • $10 million to add to the EDA’s PPE program, which helps small business owners purchase PPE;
  • $15 million to support renters in the Department of Community Affairs Rental Assistance Program;
  • $5 million to food banks and other hunger relief efforts to help families battling food insecurity;
  • $12 million for the Department of Human Services’ new Housing Assistance Program, which provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship.

The money comes from the $2.4 billion the state received in money from the CARES Act, which was passed in March.

Murphy said it was important to bring more aid to small businesses.

“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,” Murphy said. “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.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said he was particularly happy to be able to help the restaurant industry.

“This $100 million aid package funded out of the federal CARES Act will help ensure the survival of thousands of small businesses, particularly the many restaurants that have had a hard time staying afloat, even with outdoor dining and are now facing an uncertain winter,” he said. “Our economic recovery depends on the ability of our small businesses to survive until an effective treatment and cure for the coronavirus can be found.”

Sweeney pushed for more aid from Washington, D.C.

“Today marks an important step forward, but I know the governor and Assembly Speaker (Craig Coughlin) join me in saying we need Washington to step up now with another stimulus package to keep us from sliding further into recession,” he said.

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. Phase 3 of the Grant Program expands eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and increases the amount of funding businesses can receive.

“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,” Sullivan said. “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.”