New Cash Grants for Small Businesses

Perhaps the Governor read our recent article in which we questioned the efficacy of his Return and Earn program because this week, Gov. Murphy announced new funding for a program that could make a big difference for small business lessees. 10.2 million dollars was allocated to the Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SBL-EAGP).

This program is completely in contrast to Return and Earn in that it could make a huge difference for many NJ small business owners that have been finding it difficult to pay their lease.

The SBL isn’t new, but the cash infusion funding it is, so it’s worth reviewing what this program does and who should be getting excited.

Let’s get into the brass tacks.

What is the Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program?

The SBL program awards grants up to $10,000 to small businesses experiencing difficulty making payments on their lease. This program is administered by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA) via the Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief Package.

That’s a lot of Trenton talk, but in simpler terms, this program helps business owners pay their lease if they’ve experienced financial difficulties due to the ongoing COVID crisis.

This program has been rather popular and successful, an uncommon thing when it comes to government stimulus. As a result, this is the third funding event after receiving infusions of $10 million and $5 million at earlier points.

That said, $10.2 million won’t go too far, so let’s look into who’s able to apply for these funds. 

Who’s Eligible to Apply for the SBL-EAGP 

The NJRA is making grants available to small businesses that make regular lease payments within the Authority’s 64 eligible municipalities. Beyond their physical location, the structure they operate in can not exceed 5,000 square feet of space.

To be clear, these are the specific types of businesses that apply, and yes, landlords are included in this list:

  • Tenants leasing space in commercial buildings
  • Tenants leasing commercial space in mixed-use buildings
  • Tenants leasing space to operate a storefront business

In the program’s third round, priority will go to applicants that didn’t receive grants in the second round. This shouldn’t be discouraging to business owners who didn’t apply last round, as your application now might serve as your advance application should the program be funded for the fourth time. 

How Many Businesses Could Benefit From the SBL-EAGP?

If the past is any indicator for the future, up to 1,000 business owners could be receiving up to $10,000 to help them handle delinquent lease payments. This is in no way insubstantial, as more than 15 businesses in each of the 64 eligible municipalities could see relief soon.

How Do I Apply For the SBL-EAGP

Unfortunately, the NJRA is swamped with online applications, so they’ve shut down the program currently. At first glance, it would appear the train has already left the station, but I suggest that there will be additional funding in the not-so-distant future.

When over $10 million in grants is gone within a week, it’s clear that there’s still a dire need for economic support amongst the NJ small business community. This reality will be very hard for the Governor, the NJRA, and the State Legislature to ignore. 

I highly recommend visiting the NJRA website and calling the number they’ve made available. While it might be impossible to get grants already allocated for other business owners, getting your name on the list of interested parties might make a big difference when the powers that be decide whether or not to fund this program further.

The Politics Behind it All

As I had discussed in last week’s article about the ongoing stimulus conversation, Governor Murphy might feel compelled to position himself as a leader who supports his constituents if he feels the pressure of the polls.

I’ll admit, I was wrong. I thought that 9 points was enough of a lead over challenger Jack Ciattarelli for Murphy to hold off on any new stimulus funding. To my surprise, two days later, he made another $10.2 million available to the small business community. 

So What’s the Deal, Can I Get Any Money? 

Right now, unless you are amongst those who didn’t get their application approved for the second round of funding, no. Don’t despair though, there are things you can do.

I reiterate, head over to the NJRA website and call the number (1-833-626-4600) they have listed. The best way for business owners to get this program further funded is by making it clear that there’s a serious need for it.

There will absolutely be a report about the traffic on that phone line. If the report states that there haven’t been calls like unemployment and the IRS have been seeing with the 941-X refund, state officials have little motivation to find more money for small businesses.

If that line is ringing off the hook and every single caller speaks about how hard it was to get through and then immediately asks about how they can get that grant, it’s going to be a different story statewide.