The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched Phase 2 of the NJ Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program on Tuesday, Nov. 10. It provides the state’s small businesses and nonprofits with additional discounts on personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases made through approved online retailers.
The core program offers a minimum 10% discount for all NJ-based businesses and nonprofits. Initially, Phase 2 of the PPE Access Program allowed businesses and nonprofit organizations with 100 or fewer employees to apply to potentially receive an additional 25% discount for a total of 35% in discounts on PPE.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 24, the NJEDA expanded discounts available through the program. Now, small businesses may receive nearly 70% in discounts. All discounts are valid until Thursday, Dec. 10.
“We recognize that this pandemic is not something anybody signed up for. This is unplanned, and there’s a lot of pain in the economy and a lot of pain is hitting really small businesses,” Brian Sabina, NJEDA Senior Vice President of Economic Transformation, says. “We want to make sure that we’re providing as much support as we can.”
Phase 2 of the PPE Access Program was initiated to provide economic relief to small businesses and organizations. It ensures that the smallest organizations in underserved communities are able to purchase the amount of PPE needed to operate safely.
“I can’t stress the importance of maintaining a healthy atmosphere during COVID while we continue to provide services to the many residents across the state. PPE gets costly,” Francisco Cortes, CEO of The Setroc Group and President of the NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, says.
By visiting the NJ PPE Access Program website, business owners can estimate their PPE needs, learn how they can become an approved Designated Vendor and be included on a list of NJ-based manufacturers and wholesalers before applying.
(The application can be found here. It takes about 5-10 minutes to complete.)
The application consists of: basic eligibility check, opportunity zone eligible census tract determination, organization information, detailed program eligibility assessment, designated vendor selection, certifications and signature.
Following the application is the eligibility determination in real-time with results indicating an approval or denial and the amount of applicable subsidy. According to the website, the additional 65% discounts are capped at $800. Businesses located in Opportunity Zones receive a $1,000 cap.
Once considered eligible, business owners can select a designated vendor (Office Depot, Staples, or Boxed) and register with that vendor to begin shopping for PPE. The grant funds are automatically applied at checkout.
The discount is exclusively online and not in-store. Business owners can make multiple transactions using their discount up until Dec. 10. There is no additional paperwork business owners need to save, as all purchases can be tracked back by vendors.
Out of the nearly 3,800 businesses that have applied, roughly 98% of them have been approved. Of those businesses, 84% have between 0-5 full time employees and about 92% have between 0-10 full time employees.
Businesses from 380 different industry classifications have been approved, including doctor offices, professional services, full service and limited restaurants/caterers/other, child day care, etc.
Regarding diversity and inclusion, businesses from all 21 counties have been approved. Statistics regarding approved businesses indicate: 33% are located in Opportunity Zone Eligible Census Tracts, 30% are minority-owned, 41% are women-owned, 17% are women-minority-owned and 2% are veteran-owned.
“It’s something that matters to us [the NJEDA]. We do care,” Sabina says. “We are trying to do economic development differently and reach all businesses. We wear our diversity as the largest badge of honor, no matter who we’re talking to in the economy.”
Luis De La Hoz, Chairman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, encourages others to share the PPE Access Program to business owners who can benefit from it. He says everybody will be able to recover faster from the pandemic if they are safe.
“This discount would provide them [business owners] a better opportunity to not only take care of them, their customers, their employees, but also to be able to do that in a way that is meaningful for everybody in the state,” De La Hoz says. “Remember, we are in this together. The storm is happening for everybody. We may be in different boats, but this is happening to everybody. We have the responsibility to take care of us, our communities, our customers, our employees. Hopefully, we will see that this happened, and this will be just a reminder in the future. When we look back, we’ll say we were able to overcome this obstacle.”
Applications are also available in Spanish. Language assistance is offered for additional preferred languages.