Gov. Chris Christie visited small businesses along the Jersey shore Wednesday that had been damaged in Superstorm Sandy, highlighting a program of government grants and loans available to those looking to rebuild. Christie visited two stores and a restaurant that have already benefited from the program.

Governor Chris Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie walk the boardwalk. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Christie met with customers and owners at Rossi's Rent-A-Rama in Ortley Beach, Eastern Lines Surf Shop located along the newly-built boardwalk in Belmar, and Mexican restaurant Casa Comida in Long Branch, where he spoke to restaurant staff about rebuilding after the storm.

Christie touted the Stronger NJ program that was created to benefit small businesses affected by the storm.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our shore town economies and my administration is committed to helping these businesses get back on their feet," Christie said.

The program offers grants up to $50,000 and low-cost loans up to $5 million to pay for costs associated with the storm.

Businesses that sustained physical damage costing at least $5,000 are eligible.

The program is run by the state Economic Development Authority using money provided by the federal government.

Since May 1, the EDA has received 200 completed applications for grants and 22 businesses have been awarded grants totaling up to $1.2 million. Nearly $250,000 has been dispersed to eight businesses.

Businesses have until October 31 to apply.


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