Jersey Shore native is stepping up to help small businesses get back on their feet
There is no sugarcoating it, no over or under selling it, what the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions by the State have done to small businesses has been painful and it's left many out of work and those still in the game are putting on the afterburners trying to get by and build back up, hoping for full-capacity and that once that happens, people will come back.
It's not just the small businesses that are hurting but the people who work there who have their own bills to pay and families to take care of, so it's been a struggle to say the least.
Residents and businesses are tired of some politicians playing games with delivering stimulus checks and funding to help them keep their doors open to customers.
What Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports has done on a National level, Jersey Shore native Vinnie Brunetti is doing on a similar level in New Jersey, here to help small business owners march forward.
The New Jersey 4 New Jersey (NJ4NJ) non-profit raises funds to bring financial support to small businesses so they can survive the pandemic woes and build back up.
"Most business owners have their whole life tied into their business, they have the house, mortgage, line of credit and other families as well that are trying to stay afloat," Brunetti tells Townsquare Media News. "I was fortunate enough to survive and sold my business in July of 2020 and as I talked to different folks, and I love to dine throughout the state of New Jersey, I understood the restrictions these folks had to adhere to by potentially only having 25-percent or in some cases no indoor dining and some of them just couldn't survive through curbside."
By the time the holidays rolled around in December, Brunetti and some friends began discussing a way that they could try and give back and help these businesses.
That led to the NJ4NJ non-profit getting off the ground and now that it is, Brunetti and his team are working on making sure businesses stay afloat and stay in the Garden State.
"I felt in putting together this non-profit, it would be beneficial to finding the right business that was doing okay prior to Covid and Covid was the event that really impacted their business, that they really needed a helping hand," Brunetti said. "I wanted to try and give back. I've done okay for myself and I wanted to have other business owners who are stressing about 'what do I do next? how much time do I have left to survive? do I tap into other people's money? do I borrow money?', and I feel like we're at a point now where we need to help one another out. The folks in government live a different lifestyle than we do and that's okay but they need to understand there's people who are really hurting."
Brunetti has put up $250,000 of his own money and will match 10-percent of everything NJ4NJ raises up to $2.5-million in 2021. He said the goal though is to raise 10 times that amount.
"I think there's a lot of people out that would be willing to donate and I figured by matching it, it would get us to the numbers that we need," Brunetti said. "I think that as this fund grows and we start to fund some businesses that the money should start to come in and we can really make a difference. There's so many businesses that are hurting and the resources are just not there."
If you are a small business owner in need of some financial assistance, you can head to their website and apply for some help and conversely if you're able to donate, you can do so there as well.
"We're just asking for, 'were you paying your employees through Covid? how was your business doing prior to Covid? how are you doing now during Covid? what is it and who is it that you're servicing? how many employees do you have?', there's an application but we're not asking for tax returns, we're trying to understand your story and if we fund you, how that works, what are you going to use the funding for," Brunetti said.
The money is for your business, not your own personal use.
"We obviously want to avoid that," Brunetti said.
There is a committee who reviews the application and if they all feel it qualifies, there is another round of questions to better understand you and your small business before you receive any funding.
You can learn more about NJ4NJ and how they can help small businesses from Vinnie Brunetti himself: