(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers have agreed to send an additional $235 million in funding to help small businesses in the state struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state is also allocating $40 million in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for an “excluded residents fund” targeting those previously ineligible for federal stimulus programs, including “undocumented immigrants,” according to news reports.
“COVID-19 has created unimaginable challenges for our economy over the past year,” Murphy said in a news release. “As we emerge from this pandemic, we need to make targeted investments in both our small businesses and our workforce to lay the foundation for a stronger and fairer future that works for everyone.”
The $235 million in small business funding will cover pending Phase IV small business grant requests submitted to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA).
For the small business funding, the state plans to allocate $120 million to microbusinesses, $20 million to bars and restaurants, $10 million to child care facilities, $25 million to new businesses and startups, $10 million for the Sustain and Serve NJ program and $50 million to other small businesses and nonprofits.
“The restaurant, hospitality and tourism industries were crippled by the pandemic shutdown last spring and the continuing capacity restrictions that are just now being lifted sufficiently for them to be able to resume somewhat normal operations heading into the summer,” state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, said in a news release. “These new grants will be a big help.”
Meanwhile, the “excluded residents fund” will provide one-time direct cash payments of up to $2,000 to households making less than $55,000 if they can prove they have suffered economic hardship because of the pandemic.
According to WPIX-TV, the North Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice said the $40 million allocation “is insufficient to meet the crisis-level needs of communities who have been excluded from pandemic relief to date.”
Republicans have also expressed his disapproval of the proposal.
“After spending the past year sitting on federal relief funds that could have helped people, it’s a slap in the face to New Jerseyans for Governor Murphy to take a victory lap for finally funding business assistance programs as we proposed in a relief bill months ago that he refused to support,” state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Vineland, said. “It’s simply outrageous that he would tie this critical business relief to payments of up to $2,000 to illegal aliens.”
The proposal is the latest in state and federal funds aimed at helping businesses and nonprofits in New Jersey. Murphy previously signed five bills allocating $100 million in federal COVID relief funds for small businesses, arts organizations and child care facilities.