Bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers wants $300M for small business grants

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to allocate $300 million to fund emergency grants and loans for New Jersey’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The money, which would be funneled through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), ostensibly aims to help organizations impacted by COVID-19.

“With State revenues almost certain to beat expectations this year and the likelihood New Jersey will receive billions more in the next federal relief package, there’s no legitimate argument that we can’t afford this legislation,” state Senate Republican Budget Officer Steven Oroho, R-Franklin, said in a news release.

In a statement, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland, said the funding “will speed up our economic recovery from the pandemic, prevent more businesses and nonprofits from closing, and create jobs for workers who have been on the unemployment rolls for almost a year.”

The bill, proponents say, would help small businesses and nonprofits whose revenue diminished during the pandemic and its ensuing economic slowdown. Companies whose opening plans were disrupted by COVID-19 and those filling vacant storefronts or underutilized space could also see funding from the measure.

“Small businesses and nonprofits face difficult challenges as they try to decide how and when to reopen, rehire and ramp up to full operation as we slowly come out of this terrible pandemic,” state Sen. Dawn Addiego, D-Burlington/Camden/Atlantic, said in a news release. “The $300 million we are providing the EDA for grants and loans will preserve and expand jobs, help small businesses and nonprofits recover, and restore the vitality of our downtown business districts.”

In a statement, state Sen. Tom Kean, R-Union/Morris/Somerset, said the state is “sitting on a growing multi-billion [dollar] surplus,” so “there’s no budgetary reason to oppose this bipartisan measure.”

Senate Republicans said the new legislation builds on S-3210, which was introduced in November and sponsored by the entire Senate Republican caucus. That measure similarly would have appropriated $300 million in federal funds the state received to the EDA for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

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