More relief available for NJ small businesses waiting for coronavirus aid - NorthJersey.com

More relief available for NJ small businesses waiting for coronavirus aid - NorthJersey.com


More relief available for NJ small businesses waiting for coronavirus aid - NorthJersey.com

Posted: 28 Jul 2020 09:26 AM PDT

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Small business owners share their difficult and confusing journeys in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program loan. USA TODAY

Small businesses still waiting for state assistance may have a better chance at relief after Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration will offer another $15 million in grants.  

Murphy announced the third round of small business grants Tuesday at one of the businesses that have benefited from the second phase of the program, A-List Hair Studio in North Brunswick.

But there has been such high demand by small businesses for financial assistance that the second round of grants were "oversubscribed," said Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority, which established the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. Pending applicants will now be considered in the third round of grants. 

"There's a lot of unmet demand, and Tim and his team will go back and chop through that list," Murphy said. 

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Even the latest round of grants may not meet the demand from the more than 861,000 "enterprises," according to the state Office of Small Business Advocacy. The first and second round of grants quickly ran out, and there are about 30,000 pending applications from the second round that will be considered for the third, Sullivan said. 

"Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy. More New Jerseyans work for a small business than anywhere else," Murphy said. "Seeing both businesses and employees emerge from this pandemic strong and ready for the times ahead is critical to the success of our overall restart and recovery." 

So far the authority has approved grants of $44 million for 10,600 small businesses, Murphy's office said. The latest round of funding brings the total committed by the state for the small-business program to $70 million, Murphy said. The state is using federal CARES Act funding for the grants, he said. That's in addition to $100 million the authority is "administering" to businesses affected by COVID-19. 

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The grants announced Tuesday will offer businesses up to $10,000. The authority set aside a third of the federal funding for businesses in the 715 census tracts that were eligible to be selected as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone, in an effort to "help to ensure funding goes to communities of color that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic," according to Murphy's office. 

The latest grants may prove critical, with Congress debating another stimulus package as the pandemic rages, but Murphy said he is not optimistic that federal leaders will deliver enough to support families and businesses. Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, thanked the administration for the latest grants because "federal stimulus money remains on the sidelines."

But she also cautioned against plans to raise taxes as a way to deal with a massive revenue shortfall in the state budget. 

The new aid, she said, should "help New Jersey small businesses and nonprofits, whose bottom lines continue to be decimated by months of closures and reopenings with very limited capacity." 

"For New Jersey's economic health, these funds and more CARES Act money must continue to be made available to our businesses. It is also critical that, as a state, we do not cut into these much-needed grants by imposing new costs on businesses through proposed mandates, taxes and fees."

Dustin Racioppi is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to his work covering New Jersey's governor and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: racioppi@northjersey.com Twitter: @dracioppi 

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Salt Lake County issuing new round of small business grants to help survive pandemic - Deseret News

Posted: 28 Jul 2020 04:58 PM PDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County small businesses still struggling due to the effects of the coronavirus shutdown have another chance to receive sorely needed financial aid to keep their operations going.

Officials announced Tuesday a second round of its Small Business Impact Grant program, which targeted local businesses closed by COVID-19's public health orders. This latest round is aimed at reaching small businesses overlooked in the rush of initial federal relief efforts.

"The purpose of the grant program from the very beginning (was) to help these businesses that are slipping through the cracks and have not been supported or helped or found the financial aid they need through either the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Relief program," said Dina Blaes, director of Salt Lake County's Office of Regional Development. "That remains our commitment, to help those smaller businesses. We also wanted to provide direct support to businesses that had been directly impacted by the health department and the health orders that were issued."

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday outside of the county complex, she noted that since mid-June, the county has awarded $2.4 million in grants to 142 businesses, along with $2.1 million in grants requested by businesses still under review. The average grant award in the first round was $17,000, she added. The $40 million program is being funded through the county's allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — or CARES Act.

The maximum grant available is $35,000, which a number of businesses were able to take advantage of, including one Salt Lake City entrepreneur who had only been in operation since January when the pandemic hit, putting his business in financial peril.

"COVID definitely got us in the worst timing in terms of the financial situation," said David Chon, owner of Nohm restaurant located in the Granary District. "We were getting the hang of our food costs, labor and things like that. But we were kind of running out of money already."

At the time of the mandated closures, Chon said he was considering applying for a loan to keep his establishment going when he heard about the county's grant program.

"We didn't get the PPP so we were just thinking about what can we do, then this grant came out," he said. "I was quite surprised that we got the full amount of the grant, which is going to help us survive for at least three or four months."

Nicholas Huynh and Kathy Nguyen are served their meal by server Ellie Lee at Nohm in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced an expansion of the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Nicholas Huynh and Kathy Nguyen are served their meal by server Ellie Lee at Nohm in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced an expansion of the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Blaes said that during the first funding round, Salt Lake County determined that 45% of applicants were outside the main industries that were forced to temporarily close, but were still subject to the impact of COVID-19. Additionally, some applicants received federal aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration 's Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, however, the loans were not enough to keep the enterprises afloat through this extended period of the outbreak, she said.

In this new round, some of the requirements have changed to the benefit of a broader range of potential applicants, she added.

"The eligibility criteria that a business goes through as the first step to the application program asked them about whether or not that business had received prior funding," Blaes explained. "If they did, they were ineligible for this first round, but they are now eligible."

In the second round, all business industries are eligible to apply, as well as those who received other federal, state or local COVID-19 aid, she said. Applicants who received aid through CARES Act funding are now eligible if their initial amount was less than $35,000. There is no deadline to apply and grants will be distributed until the money runs out, she said.

For Craig Silverstein, owner of Liberty Park rides and concessions, being able to access funds during the first round of grants could not have come at a more opportune time.

"At one point we were thinking about not opening. When we look at our sales from the initial grant period from March 16 through June 16, we had done $70,000 approximately last year and this year we did $4,000," he explained. "So really, what it has done is has provided a lifeline for us now. We have $35,000 that we can use for expenses, labor, food, insurance, to continue and it makes it so that we will survive."

"The grant made it so I can stay open," Silverstein said. "The grant is going to make it so I can break even and that's really important because then we can operate and pay the bills."

Craig Silverstein, owner of Liberty Park Concessions, smiles as Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks of him during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, regarding the expansion of the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of other businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Craig Silverstein, owner of Liberty Park Concessions, smiles as Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks of him during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, regarding the expansion of the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of other businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Prospective applicants with questions can call the county's Business Relief Hotline at (385) 468-4011 or visit slco.org/covid-19 for more information.

While economic recovery will continue to be a long-term strategic effort, the county is committed to mitigating short-term effects in an effort to stabilize the local economy, said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

"I want to assure everyone in Salt Lake County that I'm committed to both the health and safety of our residents, but I'm also committed to our (current and) future economic prosperity," she said. "We look at the data, we see some promise right now in our state and in our county."

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speak during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, about expanding the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speak during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, about expanding the Small Business Impact Grant program to a variety of businesses hurt by COVID-19.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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