While the Coronavirus has ripped across New Jersey, State Senator, Tom Kean Jr. hasn’t stopped short of supporting his state’s local businesses. When the first signs of the spread of the virus occurred, Senator Kean, with Senator Anthony M. Bucco, immediately signed in bipartisan legislation enabling the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to distribute emergency grants to small businesses across the state and relieving businesses from strict regulations (A-3845/S-32284). These loans were essential to keeping the state’s businesses afloat during the height of the pandemic. A month later, Kean worked with State Senate Majority Leader, Steve Sweeney (D) to pass legislation that would initiate the Business Related Tax Deferral Assistance Program and a tax credit program to assist businesses of their payment of the corporation business tax and the state gross income tax (S-2347/S-2348). This bill, which includes a pushback on tax filing deadlines, would be vital to small businesses that are struggling to get back on their feet during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

While Murphy is finally starting to reopen the state's economy, It is important to remember that Kean had never stopped advocating for small businesses throughout this pandemic. On May 30th, Kean and fourteen other State Senators sent a vivid letter to Governor Murphy demanding him to establish a plan for the state to reopen, and questioning Murphy’s refusal to open any businesses that weren’t deemed as “essential”. Now, Murphy has seemed to listen to Senator Kean, his colleagues in the State Senate, and the working class people of New Jersey. Thanks to Kean, the state is now finding more ways to safely reopen the economy. 

Kean not only has backed small businesses through legislation but has demonstrated his support with examples from his own personal life. In particular, at his residence of Westfield, Kean has frequently visited his own local businesses such as the Towne Barber Shop, Splash of Thai, and the Westfield Diner. Additionally, as part of his “Kitchen Table Talk”, Kean talked with Jessica Walker, the owner of J. Walker Salon, in Bernardsville, about ways the state could treat local businesses better with its reopening and relief policies. And, he also hosted an episode with Ed Menapace, owner of the Farmhouse Store in Westfield to discuss the challenges small businesses are currently facing. 

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It’s not a surprise that Senator Kean is such a strong backer of New Jersey’s local businesses. Recently, he was given a 100% voting record with the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest business association in the United States. As seen by his track record in the Senate, Kean is a strong advocate for New Jersey’s small businesses. 

It doesn’t stop there. When the virus first started and hospitals were in need of essential supplies, Kean spent much of time donating masks to local hospitals such as Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. Over these past few months, Kean has been volunteering to help fight food insecurity, specifically at the Norwescap Food Bank in Philipsburg, NJ, the Open Cupboard Food Pantry & Thrift Shop in Clinton, NJ, and the Flemington Area Food Pantry which are all places that provide meals and other essential needs for New Jersey families in need during the pandemic. Kean even initiated his own food and supply collection in District 7 to help support the Chester/Mendham Food Pantry. In addition, Kean has been involved with the program Feed to Give in New Providence and Meals on Wheels in Philipsburg which are both organizations that provide meals to many elderly communities in the local area. 

Kean is currently running for Congress in the 7th Congressional District. He will be running in a tight race against the incumbent, Tom Malinowski (D) this November. 

Dennis Collins IV

Madison, NJ