JERSEY CITY, NJ - The $20,000 check Radia Funna picked up at Jersey City City Hall on Thursday may just save her business, after months of stagnant sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funna owns and operates Build n Blaze, a strategic advisory services firm that provides consulting and outsourcing services in the Journal Square area.

They help businesses help themselves but transforming a business into brands to develop their identity and culture and differentiate themselves from their competitors as well as other things. Recently Build n Blaze announced a United Nations partnership.  

But Funna said because of COVID-19 things have been quiet. “This money allows us to survive and stay in the game,” she said.

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Hers was one of 594 grants being awarded to small business owners throughout Jersey City to provide direct funding and support to those most in need in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the summer, Jersey City received $9 million in Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act stimulus funds to directly benefit small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

The CARES Act was designed to provide financial aid to families and businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the economic crisis it caused. The funds must be used for salary expenses, rent, or mortgage expenses, equipment leases, finance payments, loan payments, and utility payments incurred since March.

Fulop said on average businesses received about $15,000, some getting the full $20,000 while others needed less.

“Every business is important. Every local employee they can retain and hire back is important.  We’re grateful to the county and to our congressional delegation who fought for this money so that we can provide local business owners with the tools they need to recover as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Fulop. “This financial aid will be the boost most of these small businesses need in order to reopen and remain open for business, ultimately regenerating our local economy.”

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said the funding was procured by the federal legislative delegation led by Senator Robert Menendez.

Approximately 300 of the businesses given grants are located in the City’s west side and Heights sections, another 200 are within the downtown business district, and approximately 80 business owners from the Greenville section. Jersey City businesses with 25 or fewer employees that are home-based, mobile, or brick and mortar were eligible for the grants.

Based on criteria developed by Hudson County, applications were reviewed by the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC) to determine eligible expenses, which include employee salaries (capped at $2,000 per employee), salary of sole proprietor or principal (capped at $2,000), mortgage or rent payments, loan payments, equipment leases, and utility payments incurred since March.

“Having been a part of the selection process, I’m confident the nearly 600 business owners will put the funding we’re providing to the best possible use, whether it’s rehiring employees they had to let go, or paying overdue bills that continued to pile high while they were closed for several months,” said Rosemary McFadden, JCEDC Chair.  “The JCEDC will continue to work with the Mayor and Administration to provide the financial relief our businesses and residents are relying on as we continue forward with this recovery process.”

According to local officials this small business grant distribution is the latest step to move Jersey City forward as they work with residents and businesses to safely reopen and recover.  From expanding outdoor dining, to installing Slow Streets and Pedestrian Plazas, to offering free testing and supplies to residents and businesses, the Fulop Administration, they said, has been working since day one to identify areas where the assistance is needed from the city level.  

The Mayor’s COVID-19 Relief Distribution Fund has also raised millions in private donations to directly support community-based nonprofits, youth and arts programming, as well as services and grant support to low-income residents impacted by the pandemic.