More than $25M awarded to struggling N.J. small businesses, EDA says

Posted Jul 02, 2020

The New Jersey Economic Development Agency has provided more than $25 million in funding to more than 6,700 businesses in the state who have been struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Tim Sullivan announced Thursday.

In an effort to aid floundering small businesses and startups in New Jersey, the EDA has created several programs offering grants, trainings on e-commerce sites and other direct-cash support.

And on Thursday, the EDA announced five recipients under its Entrepreneur Support Program, which offers $5 million in guarantees to private-sector investors making loans to start-ups in the state. Through the program, the businesses will see a total of $700,000 in investment guarantees.

Eatontown-based Sunray Scientific, a five-person company that develops conductive materials for flexible and miniature electronics, received $184,000 in guarantees from the program, which led the start-up to close on $230,000 in new capital investment, Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily coronavirus press briefing in Trenton.

“Even through this pandemic, our work to reposition our state’s economic future to one driven by cutting-edge companies has not wavered, and SunRay is just one of numerous examples of high-tech firms looking to call New Jersey home because of the entrepreneurial ecosystem we are creating here,” Murphy said.

The EDA’s $45 million grant program, which was quickly swamped with applications, has distributed more than $11.8 million in funding to about 3,300 businesses that applied.

“We focused really aggressively on make sure these grants were made available for businesses that are historically left out of small business programs,” Sullivan said at the press briefing, noting it will offer a “more equitable and fair recovery.”

Of the 3,300 businesses, more than 22% are minority owned, 25% are women owned, and 38% are in opportunity zones, he said.

Applications are still available through July 8 for businesses in Essex, Ocean and Passaic -- counties that have put in their own $10 million to businesses who need funding.

This is the second round of grants available for struggling businesses, which can received up to $1,000 per full-time employee up to a maximum of $10,000, though businesses with as many as 25 full-time equivalent employees could apply. The full list of businesses — including restaurants, bakeries, dry cleaners, hair salons and more — that got awards under the first phase is available on the EDA site.

Sullivan also said the EDA will launch a program to help small businesses are in need of major technical assistance to support their reopening, like building a website, improving e-commerce, and electronic scheduling.

“These are your prototypical mom and pop operations that never got around to building a website or never got around to an electronic scheduling for workers, or do web-bookings for a nail salon or babershop — and that was okay pre-Covid, but now in an era of limited capacity and more need to rely on technology,” Sullivan said.

New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million residents, has reported at least 15,105 known deaths — both lab-confirmed and probable — attributed to COVID-19, with 172,356 known cases, in the nearly four months since its first case was announced March 4. The Garden State ranks second in deaths and fourth in cases among U.S. states.

State officials announced 27 new deaths and 539 new positive tests Thursday.

The new coronavirus statistics and easing of restrictions come after the U.S. on Wednesday saw more than 50,000 new cases in a single day for the first time, with 38 states seeing a rise.

Stage 2 of New Jersey’s reopening plans continued Thursday, with Atlantic City casinos allowed to operate again, along with museums, aquariums, libraries, bowling alleys, boardwalk arcades, outdoor water parks, indoor shooting ranges, playgrounds, and outdoor amusement parks across the state. All have capacity limits and restrictions.

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