Murphy signs $25M relief bill for microbusinesses (5 employees or fewer)

Twenty-five million more dollars in federal money is coming to small businesses in New Jersey — in a process that could start by the end of the month.

Thursday morning in Medford, Gov. Phil Murphy signed bill S3523, which provides $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for small businesses throughout New Jersey.

The bill — sponsored by state Sens. Dawn Marie Addiego (D-Medford) and Joe Lagana (D-Paramus) and Assemblymen Gordon Johnson (D-Teaneck), John Armato (D-Northfield), and Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) — focuses on providing a lifeline to microbusinesses with five or fewer employees.

The money will be distributed through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which is all but certain to approve a program during its next board meeting, April 14.

The program is expected to follow previous programs — meaning microbusinesses will be eligible for $1,000 per employee, or likely a maximum of $5,000. Those details remain to be worked out.

An EDA spokesperson said the EDA hopes to launch the program by the end of the month.

More help likely is coming. The bill is part of a five-bill, $100 million relief effort aimed at helping New Jersey’s economy recover from the yearlong pandemic. Murphy is expected to sign the remaining bills in the coming weeks.

“Main Street businesses have always been the backbone of our economy and, unfortunately, have been the hardest hit during the pandemic,” Murphy said. “This bill, along with others I’ll sign later this month, will help thousands of businesses keep their doors open as we climb out of the economic hardships wrought by COVID-19.”

Addiego said she helps the funding will lead to more business recovery.

“New Jersey never fully recovered from the Great Recession, and a lot of that was due to the limited relief residents, businesses and organizations received,” she said. “Right now, we have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and provide relief funding for those who have struggled over the past year, specifically microbusinesses. No more businesses should have to permanently close because of the pandemic, and this legislation will provide the assistance needed to prevent any more business closures.”