Jersey City announces relief program

City aims to match funds granted by the NJEDA Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program

Mayor Steven Fulop announced additional financial support for businesses that receive NJEDA grants due to COVID-19.
Mayor Steven Fulop announced additional financial support for businesses that receive NJEDA grants due to COVID-19.

Mayor Steven Fulop has unveiled a program of local grants to support small businesses that are facing financial hardships due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

Small businesses, and residents employed by them, are facing economic challenges as they attempt to meet payroll and basic operating expenses that are expected to increase during restricted operations and closings because of the coronavirus.

Without immediate relief, small businesses are being forced to furlough or lay off employees.

As part of the city’s small business grant program, the city will match 100 percent of any state grants awarded to Jersey City applicants of the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.

The local Jersey City program will be administered through the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC), a 501c3 nonprofit.

“We’ve been working to stay ahead of the curve by anticipating our residents’ and business owners’ needs to survive this pandemic, not only from a health standpoint but also economically, which could further devastate our community,” Fulop said. “We decided to structure local programs that fully complement the state and federal program so that our local businesses can get a much-needed advantage. We are achieving that here with short term grants up to $10,000 per business.”

State program

The Small Business Emergency Assistance Program will provide short-term, immediate payroll and working capital support to New Jersey small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits with between one and 10 full-time employees facing hardship because of the pandemic.

Of the $5 million total NJEDA funding commitment, $3 million will be set aside for businesses or nonprofits with five or fewer full-time employees.

Under the program, eligible businesses may receive $1,000 per full-time employee.

The minimum grant amount per application is $1,000 and maximum grant amount per application is $5,000.

As the demand for the grant funding may exceed the amount of available funding, funding will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date and time the NJEDA receives a complete application.

NJEDA will review applications in the order in which they are received. The application for the NJEDA Small Business Grant program becomes available at  at 9 a.m. on April 3.

The NJEDA program will be live from Friday, April 3 to Friday, April 10.

Matched funds

According to the city, the administration will use available Community Development Block Grant funds to match the $1,000 to $5,000 in state funding being made available to small businesses and nonprofits with a physical storefront.

“As a city, we believe in small businesses and their contribution to the economy, which is why providing a matching grant program is essential,” said Council President Joyce Watterman.  “Small businesses are the backbone of our city, and are among those who need financial help the most right now.  This financial boost will really help businesses get back on their feet.”

According to the city, the JCEDC is already working with local community partners to highlight this opportunity for small businesses and nonprofits to provide financial relief to those who need it during the pandemic.

As of April 1, 841 Jersey City residents were infected and 21 people had died.

“The money we match will be used to help with payroll and provide working capital with the goal of retaining employees,” said JCEDC Vice Chair Vivian Brady-Phillips. “The business owner must certify as to the COVID-19-related need for financial support and be committed to retaining employees. This is key for both businesses and the workers who also live in our community.”

Fulop said the aim is for the city to complement the state program without overlapping.

Helping renters

According to Fulop, the administration also plans to propose legislation at the Jersey City Council to freeze rent increases for tenants of rent-controlled units.

He said the legislation would protect renters from additional charges for submitting rent past its due date, noting that while people can’t currently be evicted due to a statewide moratorium, and it is not the city’s purview to waive rents all together, the city is seeking to create protections for renters.

The Jersey City council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8 at 6 p.m.

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