Small businesses—including Black-owned firms—in New Jersey hit hard by COVID-19 will get $6 million in new grants to pay rent.
The New Jersey Redevelopment Authority Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program will allow small businesses in 64 eligible municipalities to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to cover lease costs. Many of those communities have a large percentage of Black-owned businesses. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the new relief program in late July.
All types of grants are now perhaps a lifeline for entrepreneurs trying to survive and cover operating costs in today’s pandemic economy. A new survey by the NFIB Research Center reveals that 71% of small business owners who borrowed from the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have spent the entire loan. Another report by the National Federation of Independent Business research arm revealed more small business owners find it harder to pay their mortgage/rent/lease payments than any other expense.
In New Jersey, small businesses leasing commercial space in mixed-use buildings, commercial buildings, and storefront businesses are eligible for the grants.
Applications will start online on Aug. 10 and end once funds are exhausted. Grants will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis to small businesses with no more than 5,000 square feet of space. The money can be used to pay rent from March 1 until Dec. 31 of this year. More details can be found here.
Organizers estimate about 700 grants will be issued as not every applicant will need the maximum grant of $10,000. The New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA) received $6 million from the CARES Act to make the grants available. The NJRA is a multimillion-dollar independent financing authority that helps transform urban communities via direct investment and technical support.
“At NJRA, impact is and has always been our primary objective,” Leslie Anderson, NJAR’s president and CEO, stated in a news release. “And our number one priority is our state’s most vulnerable communities and neighborhoods. Not only do we invest in the communities that need it the most, but we’re there first in the areas that are often overlooked by traditional lenders.
“Right now New Jersey’s small and micro businesses, particularly those in economically challenged communities, are bearing the brunt of our nation’s health and economic crisis. These businesses deliver value and stability to our state, and yet, struggle to access capital. Today, we’re proud to be there with the Governor to offer these businesses both rental relief grants and support accessing them.”
Anderson is among only a few Black women in America running a statewide redevelopment financing authority. She has shared with Black Enterprise that NJRA has used its financial resources to leverage nearly $4 billion in new investments, helping to redevelop some of New Jersey’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.
Gov. Murphy stated, “We are committed to helping small businesses across our state survive this unprecedented crisis. “A stronger and fairer New Jersey starts from the bottom up. The Small Business Lease – Emergency Assistance Grant Program will infuse much needed funding into local economies by assisting both small businesses and the landlords that they rent from.”
Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs in New Jersey and board chair of NJRA, added, “The Small Business Lease Emergency Grant Assistance Program is directly geared toward keeping the mom-and-pop shops on main streets and business centers afloat in this time of need, specifically in our most vulnerable communities in New Jersey.”