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State officials have advice for small businesses seeking grants available under a $10.5 million New Jersey Economic Development Authority program that opens at 9 a.m. Friday for victims of hurricanes Henri and Ida.

Create your online username and password ahead of time – and if you have already done this in connection with past NJEDA programs, check now that they still work.

More than 300 small business owners joined an NJBIA-hosted webinar on Tuesday to learn details about the Henri/Ida Business Assistance Grant Program, which will reimburse small businesses for their August rent or mortgage payment – up to $5,000 – if they have sustained at least $1,000 in damage or revenue losses from the remnants of the two hurricanes that struck New Jersey in August and September.

“Applications are on a first-come, first-served basis,” explained Patience Purdy, director of NJEDA Strategic & Program Initiatives during the NJEDA webinar. “Make sure that you have … a username and password and you are all set to go on Friday at 9. Do that today, or tomorrow or Thursday. Don’t wait until Friday at 8:55.”

The website to create or verify logins and passwords for NJEDA assistance programs, including the Hurricane Henri/Ida grants that will open on Friday, is https://programs.njeda.com/en-US.

“This is not meant to be the be-all and end-all of all the support that businesses are going to need,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “It’s meant to be a bridge and a bit of resources to keep you going and address some of the near-term challenges of the immediate damage. We know that the damage is a lot more than $5,000 for a lot of people, but we wanted to get some resources out quickly.”

Sullivan and Purdy emphasized that this is a reimbursement program for August mortgage and rent payments that a small business has already made, and the grants are capped at $5,000.

“Your August rent or mortgage must be at a minimum $1,000 and your damage or revenue loss as a result of the hurricane must be at a minimum $1,000,” Purdy said. “If your rent or mortgage is $6,000 or $7,0000 – $5,000 is the most you can get,” Purdy said.

To be eligible for the program, a business or nonprofit can have no more than 50 full-time-equivalent employees based on its 2021 Q2 New Jersey WR-30 filing with the state. The business must be registered to do business and have a physical commercial location in New Jersey, such as an office, warehouse, manufacturing facility or store. Landlords and home-based businesses are not eligible.

Grants are for reimbursement of mortgage and rent. If a business or nonprofit owns the building outright, such as a volunteer first-aid squad, it cannot apply for assistance. However, if the business or nonprofit owns the building but still pays a mortgage, or if it rents space in a building from a holding company with a different employer identification number than the business, it can still apply.

Businesses that skipped paying rent or mortgage in August cannot apply until they can document that they have made those August payments, Purdy said.

Grant awards are tied to the amount of structural damage and revenue losses sustained by the business. Physical damage includes flood damage and structural damage but does not include losses associated with the power going out. The physical damage and/or losses associated with business interruption, such as lost sales, must total at least $1,000 to be eligible for a grant.

Businesses applying for grants will be asked to upload photos of damage, as well as receipts and invoices documenting their need when they file their online application.

Purdy recommended business owners submit photos or still shots taken from videos, but not the videos themselves, because videos take longer to upload and can slow down the online filling process.

Applications are first-come first-serve, so it is to the business owner’s advantage to upload documentation as quickly as possible when the application process goes live at 9 a.m. on. Friday, Sept. 17.

NJEDA urges anyone considering applying to the program to go to https://programs.njeda.com/en-US/ before Friday, Sept. 17 to register (follow the sign-in links to create a username and password) or to verify that they still remember their existing name and password used when applying for other NJEDA programs in the past. The application link for the new grant program will be added on Friday to that website in a blue box once the program goes live at 9 a.m.

To view the recording of today’s webinar, go here.  To view the complete NJEDA PowerPoint slide presentation from the webinar, go here.