Sandy Damaged Businesses Not Applying for Help [AUDIO]
If your business was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey has money to help you rebuild and recover, but the state isn't going to come looking for you.
You have to apply for the grants and low-interest loans. Wednesday night on Townsquare Media's monthly "Ask the Governor" show, Gov. Chris Christie said not enough businesses are utilizing the available programs.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is running the programs. The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is no longer involved. The Governor acknowledges that many people had some "bad experiences" with the SBA, but vows the EDA has people at the ready to work with you.
"We have $260 million dedicated to a grant program for small businesses," explains EDA Chief Executive Officer Michele Brown. "We have low-interest loans of up to $5 million for eligible locations. These businesses will have zero percent interest for the first 24 months of the loan and no principle or interest payments 0f any kind for the first two years."
There is $100 million available through the Stronger NJ Business Loan program. There are eligibility requirements. That information is available below:
"We've got money there that we haven't distributed yet and we're ready to," said Christie. "People haven't applied."
There are literally people at the EDA who are standing by to take your call or answer your email. They'll determine if you are eligible and they'll work with you through the entire process. You can visit the EDA website or call 1-855-SANDY-BZ (1-855-726-3929).
You might wonder why businesses aren't applying. Brown thinks several factors could be playing a role.
"What we think is going on is that we have business owners who are trying to make a living," says Brown.
"We're in the height of the summer season and they're busy making pizza and scooping ice cream and doing what they do well and I think a number of them either haven't heard about the programs, haven't had time to fill out the application or are confused about how the SBA program works and they think if they applied to the SBA they're not allowed to apply for our Stronger NJ Business Grant Program. That's not true."
It doesn't make any difference if a business has applied to the SBA or not, that business can apply to the NJ EDA, says Brown.
"Businesses should utilize these programs," said Christie. "They're very, very good to help businesses get back on their feet and deal with some of their problems and the folks at the EDA are ready to help you work with this."