New Jersey is Distributing $45 Million in Grants to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is supplying $45 million in new grants to underserved small businesses—including black-owned firms—bashed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding means fresh capital for businesses owned by sole proprietors and home-based entrepreneurs with a priority on minorities and women. They can apply through the authority’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program Phase 2 beginning June 9, 2020. Applicants can get grants up to $10,000 to cover such matters as operating expenses. Unlike loans, the grants do not have to be repaid by business owners. A sample application that business owners can use to prepare is now available in English, Spanish, and 10 additional languages can be found here.

The Trenton, New Jersey-based authority expects a huge demand for the grants. For the last round, over 36,000 applications were received in a week. Officials project this round will be immensely oversubscribed as well.

The NJEDA also partnered with Tara Dowdell Group, 360 Marketing & PR, and Medina = Citi. The minority- and women-owned marketing and public relations firms in New Jersey are assisting the authority to help enhance outreach to minority, women, and LGBTQ-owned businesses.   

Dissimilar from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loan effort, the NJEDA program prioritizes small and micro-businesses. For instance, firms with 25 or fewer employees are not competing with companies with 400 to 500 employees for funding. The NJEDA received $50 million from the federal CARES Act to support small businesses.

“The coronavirus pandemic is forcing all of us to grapple with unprecedented challenges, but small business owners and their employees are undoubtedly among the most severely impacted members of our communities,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan stated in a news release.

“From the start of the pandemic, the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program has played a central role in supporting New Jersey’s small business community. The expanded program will allow us to serve thousands more businesses in need and our focus on equity will ensure it benefits the communities COVID-19 has hit the hardest,” he continued.

To ensure funding goes to businesses and communities needing it most, authority officials promise that $15 million of Phase 2 funding will be set aside to support qualified businesses located in one of the 715 census tracts eligible as a New Jersey Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones, are typically aimed to spur new investment and development in low-income urban and rural communities.

Tai Cooper, NJDEA’s senior vice president for policy and communications stated, “What often gets lost when we discuss minority and women-owned businesses is how vital they are to our economy and how they benefit all of us. Despite their significance, these small businesses are almost always locked out of opportunities for accessing capital. This is why the $15 million set aside for Opportunity Zones is so important. It is focused on businesses in communities that have historically suffered from disinvestment, where many Black, Latinx, and other underserved businesses operate. Any investment that we make in these businesses is an investment in our state’s recovery and a step closer to Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of a stronger and fairer economy.”

Plus, the authority will kick an extra $5 million in to fund businesses placed on a waiting list during Phase 1.

The COVID-19 outbreak created a major public health crisis in New Jersey. To slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Murphy implemented various containment measures, including restrictions on public gatherings and mandated closure of non-essential businesses. To weaken the economic impacts of these public health policies, the NJEDA created the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. During Phase 1 launched in early April, the NJEDA  provided more than $8 million in grants to date to nearly 2,500 businesses across all 21 counties.

“New Jersey’s diversity is our strength. When we take extra steps to ensure equitable access to programs, we not only support a broader range of businesses and communities, but we also create more jobs and economic growth that benefits everyone,” stated NJEDA Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Michelle Bodden. “Setting aside a portion of Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program funding for businesses in at-risk communities and providing translation services for applicants who do not speak English are crucial steps that will increase the program’s impact and ensure relief goes where it is needed most.”

On the eligibility front, Phase 2 increases the employee cap for businesses from 10 full-time employees to 25 full-time workers. Businesses that got PPP loans are eligible for the NJEDA grants. Applicants must provide information on other COVID-19 assistance received, and will be asked to complete a Duplication of Benefits affidavit. If they have a need related to the outbreak that was not addressed by other sources, they may be eligible for a grant.

To apply and get more details, visit