Reopening New Jersey: Federal Cares Act grant a welcome relief for small businesses in NJ

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- As businesses struggle to get back on solid footing due to the coronavirus pandemic, a little relief is in sight for small business owners in New Jersey.

"To all the small businesses out there, we feel for you and understand the struggles," BWE cafe owner Tats Mori-Ryan said.

The owners of the uptown Hoboken coffee shop had to close during the height of the crisis, and have reopened making just 45 percent of their pre-COVID profits. They will apply for a grant that can give them up to $20,000.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez Wednesday joined Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla to announce $1.9 million in federal funding from the coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help small businesses in the city reopen and recover from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. Hoboken was the first city in the entire nation to close bars and restaurants on March 14, affecting many of the city's mom and pop shops.

Menendez said small businesses in Hoboken can apply for grants up to $20,000 to help pay expenses such as payroll, rent, mortgage and utilities. The CARES Act also established the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses suffering because of the pandemic.

"Our small businesses are hurting," he said. "Many that have reopened aren't yet at full capacity. And relieving some of the burden will only help small businesses and, ultimately, our economy recover. New Jerseyans are tough and resilient. We don't back down from any fight and whatever knocks us down only makes us stronger. Together, I am confident we'll get through this and see brighter days ahead."

The money is from the Federal Cares Act that businesses will not have to repay. This grant is a welcome relief.

"Rent and payroll are our biggest costs, and we during our best to employee as many of our staff as possible." BWE cafe owner Dale Miri-Ryan said.

The couple owns four stores and has brought back 80 percent of its staff since it reopened in early May with walk-up service.

The application process begins Thursday for businesses that have less than 25 employees. The city has set up a website to apply.

"It's designed to be simple, easy to apply and quick to turn around for funding with rewards granted to small businesses by September," Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said.

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