The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) gave an update on the progress of its Small Business Improvement Grant program Sept. 30, announcing that close to $13 million has been awarded to more than 500 Garden State enterprises since it launched in February.
The initiative, which is funded from the Main Street Recovery Program, provides small businesses up to $50,000 for reimbursement for certain costs, such as making building improvements or purchasing new furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The grants reimburse those eligible small businesses and nonprofits for up to 50% of those costs. Forty percent of the funding is set aside for entities in Opportunity Zone-eligible areas. Businesses and nonprofit that receive these grants are required to pay employees for the grant term $15 per hour or 120% of the minimum wage, whichever is greater. Tipped employees must be paid at least 120% of the minimum wage.
NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan says the program is an example of finding a creative way to help strengthen the economy.
“In a little over seven months, this program has helped more than 500 New Jersey businesses became more resilient and better position themselves for future growth by offsetting costs they incurred as they adapt to a post-pandemic economy,” said Sullivan.
Awards at work
In a press release, the NJEDA provided several examples of New Jersey businesses that utilized the grants. Like the Admiral Resort Motel, a family-owned destination located in Wildwood Crest.
“For over 40 years, we’ve hosted families of all sizes and from all corners of the world as they enjoy their time off at the Jersey Shore,” said William DiAntonio, Admiral Resort Motel owner. “After several needed upgrades to our facilities, which included revamping our security system and refreshing our guest rooms, we’re now in a much better financial position to invest in future projects as we continue to build vacation memories for years to come thanks to the grant we received from the NJEDA.”
Enterprise Solutions Accounting, a Hamilton-based consulting and accounting firm that focuses on primarily the Latino market, received reimbursement for a new HVAC system, flooring, doors, panel dividers, as well as for the labor costs associated with the improvements.
“The Small Business Improvement Grant has allowed us to offset thousands of dollars in renovation costs to upgrade our facility and operations,” said Enterprise Solutions Accounting owner Henry Pulido. “The reimbursement we received from the NJEDA will allow us to keep investing in the community we serve as we continue to provide the highest professional experience to our clientele.”
And the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lower Bergen County (BGCLBC) received funding to offset the costs of much-needed plumbing, heating, gutter and electrical repairs.
“Since 1949, our doors have been open to children from underprivileged communities as they try to find a safe place to learn and grow, or simply search for a sense of belonging,” said BGCLBC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Licata. “The funding we received from the NJEDA helped us offset costs so we can focus on continuing to provide quality programs and services to enable all Bergen County children, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”
Applicants must also commit to remaining in the facility and meeting wage requirements for up to four years following the execution of the grant agreement and depending on the award amount. Awards greater than $25,000 will have a compliance period of four years and grant awards less than $25,000 will have a compliance period of two years.
More details on the Small Business Improvement Grant can be found here.