TOMS RIVER, NJ – There he goes again, Governor Murphy is once again picking winners in losers out of his pocket when it comes to COVID-19 and business relief and reopening. Today, Murphy announced 64 communities will be eligible for a new relief program, but only a few towns along the hard-hit Jersey Shore are eligible. Those cities include Long Branch, Asbury Park, Neptune, and Atlantic City.
The new relief program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Lease – Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SBL-EAGP) will allow businesses in 64 eligible municipalities to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for lease costs. The program will assist small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also assists landlords, many of whom are also small businesses.
“As usual, this over-hyped announcement was polished up with a fancy title and livestreamed on the Governor’s YouTube channel. Despite the Wall Street-style branding, the new program fails more small businesses than it helps,” said New Jersey Republican Senator Michael Testa. “Murphy can do better. Before the first application arrives, he should expand the program so it can help desperate mom-and-pop businesses in every corner of the state.”
Small firms that lease no more than 5,000 square feet of space in the 64 select locales – less than 12 percent of New Jersey’s towns – are eligible to apply for up to $10,000 in grants to help with lease costs municipalities through the program promoted as “Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief.
The SBL-EAGP, managed by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA), is the first component of a broader Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief Package to be paid for with federal CARES Act funding. Through the SBL-EAGP, small businesses located in NJRA’s 64 eligible municipalities that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for up to $10,000 to assist with lease payments. It will provide grants to:
- Tenants leasing commercial space in mixed-use buildings
- Tenants leasing space in commercial buildings
- Tenants leasing space to operate a storefront business
The program will be targeted to businesses with 5,000 square feet of leased space or less, and is requiring standard debarment and legal qualifications from applying businesses. Applications will open August 10, 2020, online, and funds will be distributed on a first come first served basis. $6 million in federal CARES Act funding will be allocated for this program.
“There are 565 municipalities in New Jersey, and every one of them is home to businesses that are on the brink of failure from the coronavirus, yet only those based in 64 communities hand-picked by the Administration are eligible for help under the new program he announced,” Testa said. “Compounding the insult to employers across the state, Murphy has allocated only $6 million to this rental assistance program to help while he is sitting on more than $2.1 billion of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money unspent in a state account.”
While 97.7% of the funds remain unspent, more and more struggling businesses that could have benefited from relief funds are closing their doors permanently.
“Once again, the hardworking, taxpaying residents of Morris County have been overlooked by Governor Murphy in their time of need,” said NJ Senator Anthony Bucco. “We have suffered just as much as anyone in New Jersey during this public health emergency, yet we’ve gotten none of the support we need through the $2.4 billion of federal CARES Act money that was provided to the State of New Jersey to help all of its residents.”
“Once again, the Governor is playing favorites, picking winners, deciding which businesses survive and which die,” Testa said. “It is a joke that this relief is only available to a sliver of the state’s small employers. Now is the time to address the inequities in this program, before they even start accepting applications. Allocated more money, Governor, and help employers in all towns.”
“While Governor Murphy is sitting on more than $2 billion of federal relief funds, we have businesses across New Jersey that still haven’t gotten a penny of aid to help them survive the many impacts of COVID-19,” said New Jersey Senator Michael Doherty. “He’s squirreling away billions for his own purposes while acting like the crumbs he’s doling out through his benevolence are going to save New Jersey. It’s beyond ludicrous. That money isn’t his, it’s a return on the surpluses New Jersey taxpayers send to Washington year after year. It was supposed to be disbursed quickly to help struggling employers and employees to survive this crisis. He still refuses to do that.”