Another round for federal relief to small businesses in New Jersey.
Governor Phil Murphy posing for a photo with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Tenafly Mayor, Mark Zinna, Simply Vietnamese Owner K.T. Tran, and Ma Mi Eatery Owner, Joseph Diovisalvo, after signing the small business relief legislation in Tenafly, NJ, July 21, 2021. (A.P.//WNJ).
TENAFLY (NJ) – One hundred thirty five millions of dollars in federal relief aid are on the way to small businesses in New Jersey, thanks to a new bill (S-3982) signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on Wednesday. The bill signing took place at Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly, a restaurant that received previous New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) relief after being hit hard by the pandemic.
The bulk of the funding will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) as part of its Phase IV. Emergency Grant and NJ Community Stage Relief Grant programs.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson [District 37 (Bergen)], on June 17, 2021, is the latest relief package the state enacted to help business owners struggling, as a result of Governor Murphy ordering nonessential businesses to close for months in 2020, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, that killed over 26,500 New Jerseyans.
Senator Dawn Marie Addiego, Senator Lindo R. Greenstein, Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.
Senators Cruz-Perez, Singleton, Gopal, Lagana, Ruiz, Turner, Assemblyman Wirths, Assemblywoman Murphy, Assemblymen Karabinchak, and Caputo, Assemblywomen Vainieri Huttle, Reynolds-Jackson, Lopez, Assemblymen Freiman, Tully and Assemblywoman Swain.
On July 21, the state Legislature approved the bill in a bipartisan measure with no votes against it, and one absentee.
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, joined the Governor in Tenafly, as he signed the Covid-19 relief bill (S-3982) into law. Later that day, The Assemblyman thanked Governor Murphy, the bill sponsors, and the NJEDA on his social media account for working together to guarantee recovery for all New Jerseyans.
Governor Murphy explained that the break down for the $135 million will be allocated in multiple categories as follows:
Microbusinesses: $55 million
Bars and restaurants: $15 million
Child care facilities: $10 million
For profit arts and culture organizations: $10 million
Eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations: $45 million
Applications for the grants are now available to restaurants, nonprofits and arts organizations.
“As small businesses throughout New Jersey continue to struggle from the economic aftermath of COVID-19, we remain committed to providing them with the resources they need to recover,” Governor Murphy said in a statement after signing the law.
“Together with our partners at the federal level, the NJEDA and other departments have provided more than three quarters of a billion dollars to our small business community as we emerge from the pandemic,” Governor Murphy said.
He added that the money could also indirectly help with the current labor shortage.
“New Jersey is overwhelmingly dependent on small businesses for employment, as 60% of our workforce works at small businesses,” Murphy said. “This money is also going to allow (small businesses) to hire and get their employment back to where it needs to be.”
Tranh has owned the Simply Vietnamese restaurant in Tenafly for more than 10 years. A small yet popular restaurant, with a delicious cuisine containing a brilliant balance between the yin and yang; the sweet and salty, the sour and spicy, and the cooling and the warming. But, with COVID-19 putting the world on hold in 2020, even this wildly popular restaurant with customers from near and afar, had to adjust to a new world; experiencing hardships head on.
It was at that critical moment, where the approval of a short lifeline of $6,000 was approved by the NJEDA.
“It was only $6,000, but I cried. I really cried, because $6,000 when you’re against the wall is a lot of money,” said Tranh.
Tranh says all her workers are not returning to work, and that her new workers now are mostly high school students, who will start leaving for college in two weeks. Much of her regular wait staff didn't come back.
“They left because of COVID and now they’re on unemployment. I guess it pays them more. So they’re not coming back,” she says.
With skyrocketing living costs in Northern New Jersey (one bedroom rental alone has a monthly price tag of $1650 to $2,995 a month) and a newly approved bill, wages need to be fair and working 40+ hours a week needs to make sense, meaning that people should be able to pay their bills at the end of the month. If New Jerseyans make more on unemployment, than in a full time job in the state of New Jersey, then the problem is not unemployment.
Instead of blaming people for wanting to remain housed and feed their children, perhaps employers should urge the same public officials to come together and make New Jersey a livable state for all.
As far as the over $650 million in aid to small businesses, one-third of small businesses weren’t able to survive since the pandemic began. And despite struggling business owners failing to see that workers are not the problem, the Governor understands the need for the extra $300 (that some New Jerseyans receive) in weekly unemployment benefits to continue.
“There are so many people still hurting, and overwhelmingly – it's helping them, even if it may be keeping some people out of the workforce,” Governor Murphy said.
Former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican nominee challenging Murphy in November’s governor’s race, criticized Governor Murphy for Wednesday’s event, saying “one third of NJ small businesses have closed. That is the failed record that the people of New Jersey won’t let Phil Murphy forget.”
Regardless of which political party may lead, the state of New Jersey has been and continues to go through extreme hardships, and now is the time for all elected public servants to come together in a bipartisan effort to help residents that trusted them with their votes.
It is also clear that Northern New Jersey loves Governor Murphy. During the brief Q&A outside Simply Vietnamese restaurant, at least one car slowed down with people inside the car shouting ‘we love you Governor Murphy.’
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