Up to $30K in rent is available for small businesses in Essex, Ocean, Passaic

Small businesses in Essex, Ocean and Passaic counties are eligible for up to $30,000 in commercial rent assistance, thanks to Phase 2 of the Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program, it was announced Tuesday.

Businesses in Essex and Ocean counties can get up to $30,000; business in Passaic can get up to $20,000.

The grants, which come from CARES Act money provided to the counties, will be administered by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority.

The grants are only open to businesses located in each of the respective counties, and are on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications in Essex and Passaic counties will be available starting Monday, Nov. 16. The application in Ocean County will be available Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Businesses getting the grants still are eligible to receive funding from other sources — including the state Economic Development Authority — provided those grants are not used for rent.

No other counties are likely to participate in such a program.

NJRA CEO Leslie Anderson said the latest round of funding is intended to ensure small businesses are not left behind.

“The New Jersey Redevelopment Authority is proud to continue our commitment to supporting small businesses as they fight to weather the economic fallout brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Small businesses are crucial to helping our state recover, and this latest round of funding will help to ensure that we leave no small business behind.”

The first phase of the program, which was announced in July, helped business in 64 underserved communities. Anderson said both programs speak to a purpose of impact.

“Impact has always been our primary objective, and this program has the added value of ensuring the stability of neighborhoods by providing funding to keep small businesses in their storefronts or other commercial spaces,” she said. “Additionally, this collaborative effort with the counties will assist in expediting the distribution of the grants, and I am enormously grateful for the leadership in Essex, Ocean and Passaic counties.”

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said the need to protect small business is great.

“Small businesses form the backbone of our local economy, and nonprofit organizations provide a vital safety net of social services for our residents,” he said. “Both have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus and both need our help to be able to economically survive.

“Through our partnership with NJRA, we are making grants available to help small businesses and nonprofits pay their rent. This will help small businesses and nonprofits keep their doors open and benefits landlords who will receive rental payments, so they can pay property taxes and other expenses.”

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari, who serves as liaison to tourism and business development, said small business are a key to his county.

“Small businesses are truly the heart and soul of our communities,” he said. “The Ocean County business community has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic since tourism and hospitality represent such a high percentage of the economic activity here. Our businesses were hit earliest and hardest by the pandemic. Throughout the summer months, our business owners found creative ways to keep their businesses open while keeping employees and the public safe, however they still need help.”

Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy agreed.

“As a small business owner, these grants are vital for supporting our business community during this difficult time,” he said. “This will be our third program to specifically assist businesses throughout the county. We will be partnering with NJRA for this grant program. NJRA will administer the grant funding and ensure that our county businesses are provided every opportunity to participate.”