Murphy greenlights $15M small business COVID relief – NJBIZ

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Gov. Phil Murphy signs Assembly Bill 5446 into law at Jammin’ Crepes in Princeton, on April 12, 2021. (Josue Lora/ NJ Governor's Office).

Gov. Phil Murphy signs Assembly Bill 5446 into law at Jammin’ Crepes in Princeton, on April 12, 2021. – JOSUE LORA/ OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

New Jersey small businesses and nonprofits battered by the pandemic will be able to apply for state aid under a new $15 million grant program Gov. Phil Murphy approved on April 12.

The state assistance is meant to help employers that have taken massive financial hits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past two weeks, Murphy approved three other small business relief bills–all out of a $100 million package of employer assistance. Those funds are coming out of the state’s Trump-era federal COVID-relief grants.

A $35 million pot of money is being set aside for COVID-hit bars and restaurants, while $15 million of grants will go to arts and culture organizations and $25 million to businesses with up to five employees. A final bill that has yet to be approved allocates $10 million for daycare.

“The impact” of the grants “could be seen up and down our streets for the thousands of small businesses whose doors remain open,” Murphy said at the April 12 bill-signing ceremony at Jammin’ Crepes in Princeton.

NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan delivers remarks as Gov. Phil Murphy signs Assembly Bill 5446 into law at Jammin’ Crepes in Princeton, on April 12, 2021. (Josue Lora/ NJ Governor's Office).

NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan delivers remarks at the bill signing ceremony. – JOSUE LORA/ OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Like the other three programs, this $15  million tranche of funding is being overseen by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which over the past year has awarded an estimated $250 million of grants, low-interest loans and other forms of COVID-19 monetary relief to roughly 55,000 businesses.

Tim Sullivan, the NJEDA’s chief executive officer, said the rules and application process for these programs will be voted on at the upcoming Wednesday board meeting.

“This is … an economic crisis that is coming to an end but still very real for small businesses,” he said on Monday. The funds, he assured, will “get out the door prudentially, judiciously, but expeditiously.”

State lawmakers have been pushing for a greater say in how the state spends federal aid, especially the $6.4 billion that the state will get under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including more business grants amid the pandemic.

During an April 6 budget hearing, Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, pressed New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio on whether “we have commitments from you that your administration will work with the Legislature” on how to spend the money, something which the administration said it very much favors.