Metuchen Downtown Alliance wins nearly $315K in COVID-19 grant funding for local businesses

The Metuchen Downtown Alliance has been awarded nearly $315,000 in grant funding for COVID-19 relief measures, it announced this week.

The nonprofit downtown organization said in a news release that it has received $295,958 in Main Street New Jersey COVID-19 Relief Program funding from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. That follows on the heels of a $19,000 award from AARP as a Community Challenge 2020 grantee, it noted.

“This grant funding allows us to give direct support to local businesses at a time they need it most,” MDA Executive Director Isaac Kremer said in a prepared statement. “Every dollar we can direct to small businesses in this time of need gives them a chance to stretch their dollars further to survive this pandemic.”

The Main Street New Jersey funding can be used by businesses for expenditures incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30, including personal protective equipment, training and items needed to reopen business safely, such as outdoor furniture or Plexiglas barriers.

“It shows that this town really does care about its residents, shop owners and visitors,” Jenny Lai, owner of local business Picture Perfect Studios, said in a statement.

The MDA said businesses seeking funds from it must:

  • Have been adversely affected by the pandemic;
  • Have not received any funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Jersey Redevelopment Authority or other state business recovery program;
  • Have less than $5 million in gross receipts in the most recent tax reporting year;
  • Have between two and 100 employees;
  • Have an operational, physical location within the district’s boundary as of March 17.

The MDA said it will use the AARP grant to support the continued recovery and revitalization of more than 40 downtown restaurants and 60 retail businesses impacted by the pandemic. It will also designate cash and volunteer time toward completing projects funded by the grant including sidewalk and other infrastructure repurposing for social distancing purposes, and more.

“Businesses need to create an atmosphere where customers feel safe to spend time and shop, and I feel the funding earned by the MDA has enabled that to happen,” Gary Tilbor, owner of another local business, See-More TV & Appliance Center, said in a statement.