CAMDEN, NJ — Businesses in Camden County who have faced financial hardships because of the coronavirus will be able to turn toward a new grant relief program starting July 23.
Small businesses, with 25 or fewer employees, will have access to as much as $10,000 from the $20 million of dedicated CARES Act funds.
“Our intent is to get to the businesses that have not yet received any federal or state funding,” Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli said during a press briefing Wednesday.
Ray Lamboy, president and CEO of LAEDA Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA), who was also present, said for instance "very little” Latino-owned businesses in Camden city have received help despite making up a large portion of the population.
Grants will also be flexible, officials said. Owners will be able to apply award money toward any expenses related to COVID-19 losses.
“The board of freeholders recognizes the fact that this crisis has had a substantial impact on the smallest of businesses in our county and throughout the region and nation,” Cappelli added. “So we want to do our best to provide funds necessary for [them] to hopefully stay in business, continue to wait out the storm, keep people employed and to help our economy here in Camden County.
Those excluded from the application process: large-scale franchises (those that are locally-owned can apply), banks or other financial institutions, e-commerce businesses and age-oriented businesses like vaping and liquor stores.
If you’ve already received COVID-19 aid from elsewhere you can still apply, but Cappelli said those who have not will be brought to the top of the list.
“Small businesses are facing some of their largest challenges since the great depression, including a large disparity gap within the minority and women-owned business community,” said Nichelle Pace, vice president of the Camden Business Association (CBA).
The application process will open July 23 at 8 a.m. at www.camdencountycares.com or by calling 833-487-0462.
Between now and then Cappelli said county workers will partner with local organizations to help educate the community about the availability of funds. A few of the groups enlisted: South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, LAEDA, the CBA, the South Jersey Development Council and the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
To qualify for the program you must meet the following criteria (courtesy of Camden County):
Business revenue has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
The business has been located in Camden County since January 1, 2019 or earlier
The business employed 25 or fewer employees as of March 1, 2020
The business earned $5 million or less in total revenue during 2019