New Jersey launches grant program for small businesses

April 3, 2020

New Jersey legislative complex

New Jersey State Capitol Complex. Credit: David Biette


This morning, New Jersey opened the application process for a new grant initiative aimed at providing immediate relief to small businesses in the state.

The Small Business Emergency Grant Assistance Program is geared toward businesses experiencing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, to help them avoid furloughing or laying off employees.

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy announced restrictions on public gatherings and limited operating hours for non-essential businesses, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. As of Thursday, 25,590 people in the state had tested positive for the virus, the second-highest number of cases after New York.

The state’s new initiative aims to provide short-term, immediate payroll and working capital support for small- and medium-sized businesses and non-profits with between one and 10 full-time employees that are facing prolonged operating restrictions or closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Eligible businesses can receive from $1,000 to $5,000.

Less than 90 minutes after the initiative officially launched at 9 a.m. this morning, 10,000 businesses had already applied for assistance, Politico reported.

The program is among several economic stability measures the state is implementing to provide short-term cash flow support to small businesses and increase overall business confidence.

In New Jersey, the economic impact of the pandemic has intensified in recent days, as businesses have shut their doors and layoffs have soared. A record 206,253 new unemployment claims were filed with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for the week ending March 28, the agency reported today. The hardest-hit sectors are food and drink establishments, with 16.5 percent of claims; followed by doctors’ and dentists’ offices, with 11 percent of claims; and administrative and support services, with 7 percent of claims.

Yesterday, state leaders announced they would push back New Jersey’s income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with the delayed deadline for filing federal income taxes.

Recent laws passed in response to COVID-19*

Governor Phil Murphy has signed into law the following bills approved by the New Jersey Legislature in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • A-3095/S-1982 – Provides county clerks an additional week to prepare for the 2020 Primary Election.
  • A-3840/S-2281 – Requires school districts to provide school meals or meal vouchers for students eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
  • A-3843/S-2283 – Requires health insurance and Medicaid coverage for testing of the virus and for telemedicine and tele-health.
  • A-3845/S-2284 – Authorizes the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to make grants during a state of emergency and grant certain deadline extensions for grant submissions.
  • A-3848/S-2301 – Prohibits an employer from firing or refusing to rehire an employee who has an infectious disease that causes the employee to miss work.
  • A-3849/S-2302 – Modifies deadline for a public agency’s response to a request for government records.
  • A-3850/S-2294 – Allows public bodies to conduct meetings and provide notice of those meetings virtually.
  • A-3851/S-2295 – Permits extension of deadlines for adoption of county and municipal budgets.
  • A-3854/S-2286 – Expands COVID-19 testing capabilities by authorizing all licensed health care facilities and laboratories to collect specimens to test for the disease; allows waiver of staffing ratio requirements.
  • A-3855/S-2287 – Requires food access information be displayed on websites of 2-1-1 system and executive branch departments.
  • A-3861/S-2290 – Permits corporations to hold shareholders’ meetings virtually.
  • A-3865/S-2291 – Limits returning items purchased from retail food stores.
  • A-3900/S-2304 – Expands the State’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) programs to provide more workers with access to paid-leave benefits.

*Courtesy of the office of New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.

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