MILLBURN – Small businesses in New Jersey damaged by the storm that was once Hurricane Ida will be able to apply for grants of up to $5,000 from the state to help start paying for their recovery, starting next week.

The $10 million program was announced Friday by Gov. Phil Murphy and Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the state Economic Development Authority, whose board is scheduled to approve the initiative at a special meeting Wednesday. Details and an online application portal will follow shortly thereafter.

“We’ll have this money on the street as fast as we can because we that know insurance and federal programs are well-meaning but they can take time,” Sullivan said. “And small businesses, we heard it several times up and down the street today, they need help right now.”

Murphy said the program will be separate from any federal emergency aid that may follow, such as through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or U.S. Small Business Administration.

“If you’ve been crushed, and you can prove it, you’re eligible,” Murphy said.

“We recognize that right now, regardless of what funding we might get down the road, our small business owners are still in the process of pumping out water, cleaning out and taking stock,” he said.

The program will provide short-term reimbursement support for August rents and mortgages paid by New Jersey businesses and nonprofits with up to 50 employees that suffered physical damage from the storm and resulting flooding.

Landlords and home-based businesses will not be eligible for the grants.

One-third of the $10 million in funding available through the program will be targeted to businesses with a primary business location within the 715 census tracts designated as eligible to be selected as an Opportunity Zone.

If grants average $3,000, the midway point in the planned range, that would mean more than 3,300 businesses around the state could get funding.

Murphy and Sullivan urged small business owners to document their storm losses carefully though photographs, receipts and other paperwork for both state or federal aid and dealing with insurers.

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Sullivan said the EDA has, unfortunately, gotten adept at administering small business recovery grant programs as it tried to help them survive the pandemic.

“One of the things we’ve seen so often the last 18 months is New Jersey’s small business community is resilient as hell,” Sullivan said. “And you see it in folks already getting to work cleaning up, rebuilding, getting back to work this morning just 36 hours after this tragedy.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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The best outdoor beer gardens at NJ breweries

There are more options than ever for enjoying a Garden State crafted beer in an outdoor setting.

New Jersey tied for first place (with Kentucky) with 43% growth in the craft beer scene from 2015 to 2019, according to C+R Research.

The following is a roundup of breweries around the state with scenic, dedicated outdoor seating as weather allows.