LIVINGSTON, NJ — Recognizing local businesses as “an important part of [the Livingston] community’s identity,” the Livingston Business Improvement District (BID) recently partnered with the Township of Livingston to support independently owned businesses with the community that have been unexpectedly devastated by the COVID-19 crisis.
Together, the township and the BID have created the “LuvLiv Local Grant Program,” which officially launched on Friday with the purpose of strengthening the community “one business at a time.” Any businesses that either own or rent retail space in a commercial building located in Livingston are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $1,500.
“The Livingston BID was created several years ago by the township to promote business and economic development in our town, and now, more than ever, local businesses need our support,” said Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “This program, funded by the township, is meant to help businesses re-open and, once open, encourage people to shop locally."
Township Manager Barry Lewis added that once the COVID-19 outbreak hit home, the township recognized that local small businesses would be "hit extremely hard."
“In addition to providing relief to all residents through a 0-percent municipal tax increase on an average home, the mayor and council were committed to helping our small businesses," said Lewis.
After working closely with the BID to identify programs that would best help Livingston businesses, the administration was able to introduce the 2020 municipal budget last week with $125,000 set aside for small business relief. According to Lewis, the grant program, which is detailed below, will “help offset expenses incurred in re-opening while addressing social distance and health requirements.”
“The township has always been a great partner to the BID; but in this unprecedented time, both groups have stepped up to help our businesses,” said BID Executive Director Beth Lippman, who added that the goal is to help Livingston businesses get back to work as soon as possible with the least amount of barriers.
In addition to the grant program, the township is also currently working with the BID in the anticipation of modified executive orders from the governor’s office in the coming weeks that could permit certain establishments to operate at reduced capacities with social-distancing requirements and temporarily relax requirements for procedures associated with curbside pick-up, outside dining, signage and other provisions.
Another program currently in the works is a gift card subsidy that will allow businesses to sell $25 gift cards or certificates for only $15, which Lewis said is “a win for businesses and residents.” Specific details are forthcoming in the next week or two.
"Initially, funding has been provided to subsidize the purchases of gift certificates, but other programs to assist businesses will also be announced," said Fernandez. "Our local businesses have always supported the town, and the town needs to support our local businesses.”
According to LuvLiv Local, all businesses applying for the grant program must have opened prior to March 16, 2020, and must guarantee that they will re-open their business within one month of being legally allowed to reopen by the State of New Jersey.
Examples of eligible businesses include: retailers, restaurants/cafés, fitness/dance/music studios, salons, tutors and dry cleaners
Businesses that qualify for the grant will be able to obtain up to $1,500 to cover expenses needed to re-open their business after being forced to close due to the pandemic.
The Livingston BID provided the following examples of expenses this grant could be used for:
- Marketing tools (i.e. social media, website, online ordering platforms, etc.)
- Payment platforms for accepting credit cards (i.e. online and/or contactless payment tools)
- Shipping/delivery platforms
- Personal protective equipment (i.e. masks, gloves, no-touch thermometers, etc.)
- Equipment to re-fit stores for social distancing (i.e. plexiglass dividers, barriers, floor decals, etc.)
- Signage for revised services offered (i.e. curbside pick-up, delivery, etc.)
- Advertising campaigns in local media
- Replenishing inventory or paying for existing inventory due within 30 days of closing
- Other expenses necessary for implementation to reopen and/or adjust business model
The application deadline is June 5, 2020 and should take about 10 minutes to complete.
Grants will be awarded weekly until all funds have been used. Once the grantee has been notified and submitted payment information that meets compliance checks, the BID will process the payment.
A follow-up survey will be distributed to all grantees in order to learn how the money was spent and the impact that it made. Grantees will be required to complete and submit the survey within a week of receipt.
To read more about the municipal budget and how the township was able to assist with these grants, CLICK HERE.
Are you a business owner looking to reach our audience? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about our Grand Re-Opening Marketing Specials being offered through April 30.