A short tour of Millburn on Friday was all Gov. Phil Murphy needed to recognize the big damage that was caused by Tropical Storm Ida. Unfortunately for small business owners everywhere, it was a visual Murphy had seen many times before.
“Like a lot of communities, Millburn is, sadly, hardly alone,” Murphy said. “Millburn was crushed. And the downtown small business community was crushed. And that’s a big reason we’re here today.”
Murphy came to Millburn — the first of multiple municipal visits he will make Friday — to announce the state is quickly setting up a grant program that will award up to $5,000 to companies and nonprofits with up to 50 employees that suffered physical damage Wednesday or Thursday.
The funding, which will come from a program set up by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, will be in addition to any other aid businesses receive, Murphy said.
“We have a plan in place to assist our small businesses as quickly as possible,” he said. “This is immediate, and separate and apart from whatever the feds end up doing.”
The proposed program will be presented to the EDA’s board for consideration of approval at a special meeting next Wednesday. Approval is necessary — but appears to be a formality. The EDA is expected to announce full details and the application timeline for the grant program following that meeting.
Landlords and home-based businesses currently are not eligible for grant funding in the proposed program. Under the preliminary plan, to be eligible, the applying entity must:
- Provide certification of an unmet need due to damage and/or business interruption;
- Provide documentation of physical damage to the applicant’s physical commercial location;
- Present a valid Employer Identification Number;
- Submit recent wage reporting form (WR30), if applicable;
- Be registered to do business in the state;
- Be in good standing with the Division of Taxation.
Murphy and EDA CEO Tim Sullivan implored business to maintain all possible documents related to the damage, including pictures and all receipts. (See full story here.)
As proposed, grants will be provided in the form of reimbursement of August rent or mortgage ($1,000 minimum rent eligibility).
Read more from ROI-NJ:
- Pictures and receipts: For businesses hurt by Ida, documentation is essential for getting funding relief
To ensure grants reach businesses in the hardest-hit communities, including communities of color, one-third of the $10 million in funding available through the program will be targeted to businesses with a primary business location within the 715 census tracts designated as eligible to be selected as an Opportunity Zone.
The program figures to be just the first aid program for small businesses.
Murphy said he has spoken to both President Joe Biden and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell about emergency funding — and that the state already received the first step, which is the emergency declaration.
That means the state will get equipment, reimbursement for emergency expenditures, and that federal agencies will quickly come in and make assessments as to how much more aid we are potentially eligible for.
The need is obvious, Murphy said.
“Just walking through for a few minutes in the downtown area, it is clear that the damage caused by either is significant by any measure, and recovering and rebuilding will require economic support,” Murphy said. “And we will be there.”