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The coronavirus business assistance programs approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Thursday are designed to get money into the hands of the very smallest employers as quickly as possible, and that’s good news for independent contractors, sole proprietors and very small LLCs, according to NJBIA Vice President for Government Affairs Chris Emigholz.

Independent contractors and freelancers especially are in a sort of limbo: They don’t have organizations that pay them a regular salary (they get paid by the job, usually) and, being independent, they don’t qualify for unemployment or paid leave.

“The EDA grant program could benefit a lot of independent contractors,” Emigholz explained, though not all of them may qualify for aid. “The EDA programs were designed to provide fast financial assistance to the smallest of small businesses, and you can’t get much smaller than working alone for yourself.”

As New Jersey Business reported on Thursday, the EDA approved $75 million in emergency assistance to business, and Emigholz said applications could be ready as early as next week. The programs include grants of up to $5,000 for small businesses in retail, food service, accommodations and other hard hit industries. It also includes 0% interest loans of up to $100,000 for companies with less than $5 million in annual revenues.

Only businesses with one to 10 employees are eligible for the program, and EDA made it clear that the majority of grants would go to those with fewer than five employees.

Emigholz indicated that the programs were designed with the idea that a lot more money will be made available once the federal stimulus package is finally approved. (Insert House Vote here, if available.)

“These programs are designed to be scalable,” Emigholz said. “We’re anticipating a large infusion of cash from the federal government, which can hopefully just be added to what EDA is already doing for business to help out more companies. Federal requirements may mean they have to change their programs or adopt new ones, but if not, this is an efficient way to get funding to where it’s needed as quickly as possible.”