MONTCLAIR, NJ -- The COVID-19 virus is impacting businesses hard all across the state: gyms, restaurants and bars are closed, and other businesses have seen large drops in the revenue. For some establishments, cash flow is near zero right now.

Many employers feel especially vulnerable. However, according to the New Jersey Dept. of Labor, small business owners should know that financial relief will be available in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bipartisan federal legislation is expected to be passed this week that will provide small and mid-sized businesses with 100% compensation for providing two weeks of sick leave to employees, along with tax credits for providing up to three months of Paid Family Leave. New Jersey lawmakers are also working on providing relief to the business community.

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The Labor Dept. is urging business owners to continue paying their employees -- whether or not they are able to work. All but the largest employers will be fully reimbursed under the legislation, and employees who are not well or are caring for someone who is ill will have the peace of mind and financial security to stay home. Employees who continue to be paid are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance or other benefits.

The federal government is stepping in, too. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced $50 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) that will be available to small businesses due to Coronavirus. Not all businesses will qualify for the SBA Disaster Relief program. Because the program is government-run, it could take 3-4 weeks -- or more -- before funding is actually in a business owner's bank account, especially because of the expected volume of applicants.

Companies that need cash in a quicker timeframe, might consider alternative (non-bank) funding options that may be available, from online finance platforms, such as Biz2Credit, which is helping businesses apply for SBA funding and search for other alternative financing options (if a business does not qualify for the EIDL loans). 

What financial assistance programs can help NJ small business owners?

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has a portfolio of loan, financing, and technical assistance programs available to support small and medium-sized businesses. 

  • Access: a pilot lending program that provides financing to NJ small businesses either in the form of direct loans through EDA, or through loan guarantees in partnership with an EDA Premier Lender. 
  • Micro Business Loan Program: makes financing of up to $50,000 available to for-profit businesses legally registered to do business in NJ, with a business location in the state (home-based businesses are not eligible), who have annual revenues in the most current fiscal year of no more than $1.5 million and 10 full-time employees or less at time of application.
  • Premier Lender Program: NJEDA works with lending partners to provide low-cost financing options with quick turnarounds. If your small business is discussing potential financing with one of EDA’s Premier Lender banks, the EDA’s participation or guarantee of a portion of the financing can lower the cost of borrowing money for your business.
  • Direct Loans: Businesses in need of financing and committed to job creation/retention may be eligible for direct loans through EDA when financing is not available under other EDA financing programs.
  • CDFI Loan-to-Lender Program: Through the CDFI Loan-to-Lender Program, NJEDA provides funding to qualified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), in order to administer term loans or lines of credit to qualified small businesses (some of which may not be able to secure traditional bank financing).
  • Premier CDFI Program: NJEDA can provide small businesses with loan participations, loan guarantees, and line of credit guarantees in partnership with designated Premier CDFIs. 
  • Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program: NJEDA has partnered with The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) for the Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program. The program is designed to help construction business needs, providing comprehensive technical assistance, supportive services, and access to capital. 
  • Small Business Fund: Creditworthy small, minority-owned or women-owned businesses in New Jersey that have been in operation for at least one full year and may not have the ability to get bank financing, or not-for-profit corporations that have been operating for at least three full years, may be eligible for direct loans under the Small Business Fund.

If my business is negatively impacted by COVID-19, who should I contact?

If you have additional business-related coronavirus questions, you are welcome to call the New Jersey Business Action Center (8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. ET) at 800-JERSEY-7 or visit business.nj.gov

In addition to the millions of dollars in funding NJEDA administers as loans and loan guarantees to New Jersey small businesses, the agency EDA also partners with several organizations that provide a wide array of services to New Jersey small businesses and entrepreneurs. Speaking with an NJEDA team member may be helpful in understanding what resources may be available to address your business needs. Call 609-858-6767 or share information about your business at contactus.njeda.com.

What federal assistance is available?

The federal government’s $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 includes provisions that allows the Small Business Administration (SBA) to administer disaster-related loans. Per his address on March 11, 2020, President Trump has authorized the SBA to offer an additional $50 billion in SBA loans at low-interest rates to help small businesses overcome temporary economic setbacks caused by the spread of the Coronavirus. The SBA's coronavirus website has the most up-to-date information available on current loan packages and program information.