CAMDEN, NJ — Like many business corridors throughout the country, Haddon Avenue was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Monday, Parkside Business & Community In Partnership, Inc. (PBCIP) and M&T Bank — with technical help from Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA) — announced $25,000 for eight Camden businesses on that strip.

AJ Riggs, owner of The Camden Store - a local retailer who was among the grant awardees - says the funds will allow them to boost their inventory and upgrade equipment.

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“We do silk screen embroidery and the new equipment can help us do sublimation, which would mean we could do more of our products in-house,” Riggs said over the phone.

“We’re still working on our reopening plan and having all the safety measures in place,” added Riggs.

While the physical location has been closed The Camden Store has continued to provide online options and has popped up at local outdoor events as well. Riggs said they plan to open Oct. 14. 

“[Many] of these businesses are facing adverse economic impacts, making it difficult to pay essential bills and return to business as usual as the statewide reopening was phased in (FYI, there are still regulations in place in NJ),” PBCIP said. “To reopen, small business owners needed money upfront for rent, staff and supplies, without knowing when or if customers would return.”

The grant money was secured through the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Grant (SBRG) Program, which makes small business grant funds available for business owners in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To qualify, businesses had to have a 25% decrease in revenue because of the coronavirus health crisis. 

Between $2,000- $3,800 will be awarded to the following businesses:

1) Body Designers

2) Mario Pizzeria

3) ReFresh Laundry

4) Stefey’s Hair Salon

5) The Camden Store

6) TI’s Next Level Barber Shop

7) Top Model Hair Salon

8) Visionary Entertainment

“As a community bank, M&T is acutely aware of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses and commercial districts like Haddon Avenue,” said M&T Bank Regional President for Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Bernie Shields. “We feel it is our responsibility as a banking partner in South Jersey to provide solutions and are happy to partner with Parkside Business Community in Partnership and the Latin American Economic Development Association to facilitate grant funding to businesses on the corridor.”

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