Starting Tuesday, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is bringing back discounts of nearly 70% off the price of personal protective equipment for small businesses.

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The state first launched the PPE program for small businesses late last year. Only businesses with 100 or fewer employees are eligible for the PPE discounts.  Businesses that were approved prior to Dec. 17 do not need to reapply.

The businesses will be subject to the same caps that were placed on the program in 2020: $800 for all eligible businesses or $1,000 for businesses located in one of New Jersey's 715 census tracts that were eligible to be designated as Opportunity Zones.

"The PPE Access Program's success in 2020 played an important role in helping New Jersey businesses stay safe during the winter and we are glad to continue providing this resource for small businesses in the new year," NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said.

The discount expansion is happening because the original program launched last year was a success. Nearly 9,000 New Jersey small businesses were able to access PPE through the program for discounts totaling more than $7.6 million.

Having PPE available to them at huge discounts can have an impact on a small business's survival. Businesses like hair salons, nail salons, gyms, restaurants and other places did not have buying masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for staff as part of their expense picture a year ago so these deep discounts help their bottom lines.

Also, tracking down the right kind of PPE can be challenging. Sullivan said the NJEDA has worked closely with Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and her team to curate a list of the right kind of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for these small businesses that have the seal of approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

The PPE for these small businesses come from Staples, Office Depot and Boxed.com. When a small business gets approved after applying, they'll get a coupon to purchase PPE supplies from a vendor of their choice.

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