New Jersey is distributing $112 million in federal
coronavirus-related economic aid and has earmarked $35 million for the state’s
struggling restaurant and bar industry.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the funding at a news conference held
at a brewery, Flounder Brewing Co., in Hillsborough on Tuesday. In
addition to helping the food-service industry, portions of the money will go
toward rent relief for tenants and to help so-called microbusinesses, according
“We’re ready to help businesses like Flounder Brewing not
just get through this unprecedented time, but emerge primed and ready for
growth,” the governor said.
New Jersey, once of of the U.S. epicenters of the COVID-19
outbreak, only topped by New York in terms of confirmed cases, still has
relatively strict regulations in place for restaurants and taverns. Outdoor
dining and takeout and delivery are permitted, but restaurants
can only offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. As the weather
gets colder, too frosty for alfresco dining, eateries already struggling
financially fear they won’t survive.
“We appreciate the new grant program,” Marilou
Halvorsen, president and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality
Association, said in an email. “The restaurant industry has been
devastated and needs funding quickly. We are anxious to see the particulars on
the program and eligibility requirements.”
The bulk, $70 million, of the state’s latest coronavirus aid will
be distributed to restaurants, micro-businesses and other enterprises through
phase three of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s emergency grant
program for small businesses, Murphy said.
Help for the Smallest of Businesses
The EDA launched that program in early April, and to date over
19,000 small businesses have benefited. The program’s third stage expands its
eligibility to any business with 50 or fewer full-time employees and increases
the amount of funding businesses can receive.
“To ensure funds flow to businesses that need them most,
includes set-asides for grants to restaurants and
micro-businesses,” according to the governor’s office.
So $35 million will be dedicated to support food-and-beverage
establishments and $15 million will be directed to support micro-businesses
that have five or fewer employees. The remaining $20 million of the $70 million
will be available to support any eligible business.
In line with Murphy’s commitment to a fairer recovery, his office
said one third of each of those pools of will be directed to support entities
located in census tracts designated as federal “opportunity zones”
meant to encourage development by deferring or eliminating capital gains taxes
An additional $10 million in funding will be used to help small
businesses purchase personal protective equipment through an EDA program; $15
million will go to support renters through the state Department of Community
Affairs; and $5 million will support food banks and other hunger-relief
The news conferences speakers included U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez,
Congressman Tom Malinowski, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver and state Senate
President Steve Sweeney.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and
critical to the vitality and quality of life in our downtowns,” Sweeney
said in a statement.
Aid for Renters
The rent-relief funding will be administered by the Department of
Community Affairs, which has a program to reduce the burden renters impacted by
COVID-19 face by paying landlords directly for up to six months. The funding
just announced will cover rent incurred from Aug. 1 through Dec. 30. Payments
per household will depend on a variety of factors such as location, rental
market, family size, and average per-household income.
Last week, the state Department of Human Services unveiled a new
housing assistance program that will use $12 million in federal coronavirus
relief to provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible
households that have suffered a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
The Garden State was awarded $2.4 billion in federal funding in
April. The $100 million announced Tuesday will supplement the $115 million in
federal funds already allocated for economic development and reemployment
programs, and the $100 million allocated for housing-assistance programs.
*Article courtesy of CoStar
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