Applications for $10M Small Business Lease Grant Program to open Oct. 20

Program will support leasing of street-level space for businesses and nonprofits

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan talking about the proposed fund.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will begin accepting applications for its Small Business Lease Grant Program on Oct. 20, the EDA announced this week.

The $10 million pilot program, which is part of the state’s Main Street Recovery Program, aims to help revitalize downtowns and main streets by offsetting a portion of the cost associated with businesses and nonprofits leasing street-level space.

Here’s how the program works:

  • Eligible businesses and nonprofits that are entering new or amended market-rate leases can apply for a pair of grants totaling up to 20% of annual lease payments;
  • The first grant will be paid to entities immediately after they are approved for the program and execute the grant agreement;
  • The second grant will be paid one year after lease payments have been paid.

Here’s how you qualify:

  • Businesses and nonprofits must enter a new lease, lease amendment or lease extension that includes at least 250 square feet of street-level office, commercial or retail space;
  • The lease must have been executed within 12 months prior to the application and applicants must also commit to remaining in the leased space for at least five years.

Please note: Businesses and nonprofits that receive grants through these programs will also be required to agree to pay employees going forward for the five-year grant term at least $15 per hour, or 120% of the minimum wage. Tipped employees are exempt from the $15 per hour requirement but must still be paid at least 120% of the minimum wage.

And, please note: 40% of program funding will be set aside for businesses and nonprofits in Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts.

For more detailed information, click here.

The Small Business Lease Grant Program is the first of several programs the EDA will launch in the coming months under the Main Street Recovery Program. Created under the Economic Recovery Act of 2020, the Main Street Recovery Program is a $100 million small business support program that will fund multiple financial assistance products aimed at supporting the growth and success of small businesses in New Jersey.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said he is eager to get the programs going.

“The NJEDA has spent the past 18 months laser-focused on helping small businesses weather the financial impact of the COVID-19 in a fair and equitable manner,” he said. “Now, thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this year, our Main Street Recovery Program will arm small businesses and nonprofits with the tools necessary to reopen and prepare for long-term success in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“Rolling out the Small Business Lease Grant Program is an important first step.”

Signed in January 2021, the Economic Recovery Act creates a package of programs that includes tax credits to incentivize job creation, new construction and revitalization of brownfields and historic properties; financial resources for small businesses; support for new supermarkets and healthy food retailers in food desert communities; new funding opportunities for early-stage companies in New Jersey; and support for the growing film and digital media industry.