The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) opened applications for its Small Business Improvement Grant on Thursday. The Small Business Improvement Grant is the second of several products the NJEDA is launching under the Main Street Recovery Program, to help small businesses become more resilient and position themselves for growth.
Funded with $15 million, this product will reimburse eligible small businesses and nonprofits for up to 50 percent of eligible project costs associated with building improvements or the purchase and/or installation of new furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FFE) made on or after March 9, 2020, but no more than two years prior to application. The maximum grant award will be $50,000 per business entity for the life of this program.
“Small businesses are the backbone of New Jersey,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This program will allow small businesses and non-profits throughout our state to make the investments necessary for their success and for improvements to their spaces. Since the beginning of our administration, the NJEDA has been focused on making New Jersey stronger and fairer for all New Jerseyans, and the Small Business Improvement Grant is just one of many examples of what we are doing to ensure that small businesses share in the benefits of the Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA).”
Created under the ERA, the Main Street Recovery Program is a $100 million small business support program that will fund multiple financial assistance products aimed at supporting the growth and success of small businesses in New Jersey. More information is available at https://www.njeda.com/main-street-recovery-fund/.
“The Main Street Recovery Program embodies Governor Phil Murphy’s commitment to providing small businesses and nonprofits with the resources they need to build greater resilience against economic challenges and succeed in the long run,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Products created by the ERA include provisions to ensure equity and inclusiveness, and the Small Business Improvement Grant, combined with the other components of the Main Street Recovery Program, provides a comprehensive approach to fostering more vibrant downtowns.”
In line with Governor Murphy’s commitment to equity, 40 percent of the Small Business Improvement Grant funding will be set aside for businesses and nonprofits in Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts.
“The pandemic hit small businesses hard and the Small Business Improvement Grant will help to offset the costs they had to incur to adapt to new and challenging circumstances,” said Christina Fuentes, NJEDA’s Managing Director of Community Development. “We encourage small business owners that have invested in their facilities and operations to adapt to new ways of doing business during these stressful times to apply for this grant to help them recover their costs and build their reserves for whatever the future may hold.”
To be eligible, work must be completed on or after March 9, 2020, but no more than two years prior to application date. Applicants must provide documentation proving payment was made for completed work (e.g. invoices, statements, payments, and/or cancelled checks.)
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 upon 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.
The first offering created under the Main Street Recovery Program is the Small Business Lease Grant. That grant provides an award of 20 percent of annual lease payment for each of the first two years of a lease to small businesses and nonprofits that have entered into a new lease no earlier than 12 months prior to their date of application and the new lease is for at least 250 square feet of street-level space and has a term of at least a five years. Businesses that have amended or extended their lease and have added at least 250 square feet of space are eligible as well. Applications for the grant were launched on October 20, 2021. Details about that grant, including complete eligibility criteria, and additional information are available at https://www.njeda.com/small-business-lease-grant-program/
Businesses and nonprofits that receive funding through the Small Business Lease Grant or Small Business Improvement Grant are required to agree to pay employees going forward for the grant term the greater of $15 per hour or 120 percent of the minimum wage. Tipped employees must be paid at least 120 percent of the minimum wage. For more information on wage compliance for the Main Street products please visit https://www.njeda.com/main-street-recovery-fund/.
Signed in January 2021, the ERA creates a package of programs that includes tax credits to incentivize job creation, new construction, and revitalization of brownfields and historic properties; financial resources for small businesses; support for new supermarkets and healthy food retailers in food desert communities; new funding opportunities for early-stage companies in New Jersey; and support for the growing film and digital media industry.