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Millions in Storm Grants Available to Small Businesses [AUDIO]

After Superstorm Sandy flooded Crystal’s Beach Salon in Ortley Beach with nearly seven feet of water, the nearly $50,000 grant from the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program is invaluable.

Michele Brown, CEO of the Economic Development Authority, Crystal Tenore, Owner of Crystal’s Beach Salon, and Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher. (Photo by Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media)

However, state officials remind there are still millions available for small business still suffering after Sandy.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available to businesses who suffered damages of at least $5,000 from Sandy. Economic Development Authority CEO Michele Brown says the money can be used towards a variety of things, from making repairs to meeting payroll.

“It can help them with working capital, with inventory, with equipment, or with other needs than can help them reopen their business, can help them fund their business, or help them grow in their existing sites,” says Brown.

To date, the EDA has received 200 completed applications for the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program and 26 business have been awarded grants totaling up to $1.4 million. Brown says applicants who need help submitting forms can receive help by calling 1-855-SANDY-BZ.

“Businesses will simply have to show us what their capital needs are for the year, what their damages have been, and their expenditures so far, and we’ll help them through the process.”

The CEO points out once the application is completed and approve, “they’ll have cash in a week’s time.”

Once approved for a grant, businesses have up to one year to submit receipts and invoices for eligible expenses, at which point the EDA will issue a disbursement.

Small businesses who apply for the grant program are eligible for either up to $50,000 per impacted location or $250,000 max per entity. Damage sustained can include physical property and non-perishable/non-consumable inventory.

The program launched after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Action Plan.

Crystal’s Beach Salon
Crystal’s Beach Salon (Photo by Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media)

Governor Christie called on the EDA to administer $460 million of the state’s CDBG Disaster Recovery allocation to support the recovery of impacted businesses. The Stronger NJ Business Grant program is the first of these CDBG-funded business recovery programs and is utilizing $260 million of the allocation, with the option to request more if need be.

“We also have a loan program,” notes Brown, “where we have $100 million available for businesses that have additional financial needs.”

HUD may require funds for physical damage, including equipment, furnishings, fixtures, machinery, and construction to be subject to additional reviews, environmental clearances, and National Flood Insurance Protection coverage that could delay the provision of grant assistance.

To be eligible, businesses must have at least one location in New Jersey and entities must have been in existence at the time of the storm.

Applicants must also be a small business, as defined by the SBA, and have annual revenues of at least $25,000 and no more than $5 million. Businesses must have less than $1 million of liquid assets at the time of application.

Applications must be received on or by October 31, 2013.

More information can be found online.

Jason Allentoff contributed to this story.

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