Baraka launches grant program for small businesses impacted by coronavirus

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Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka (Facebook)
Urban News Staff Reports

In the first of a series of sweeping economic initiatives to ease the financial pain of Newark residents due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Mayor Ras J. Baraka today announced a program that will provide small businesses with emergency grants.

With $2 million earmarked for this small business grant program, the City will offer about 200 business grants up to $10,000 to provide working capital for operating costs, payroll, accounts payable, inventory, equipment, rent, taxes, licensing or other business-related expenses.

 “This City, its small businesses are experiencing one of the greatest challenges in our history,” Baraka said. “Small businesses are often the heart of our neighborhoods and, equally, are an important piece of our economy. We can’t stand by and wait for help from other sources. Here in Newark, we must solve our own problems.”

The qualification criteria for grants are as follows:

Business must have a physical establishment located in Newark; business must have 10 employees or less; business must show loss of income directly tied to the coronavirus crisis; businesses that owe any money to the City will have their applications placed at bottom of list.

Applications for the fund will open on Monday, March 30, through a link on the United Way of Essex County website that will go live Monday. The link is https://uwnewark.org/

An informational webinar on the program will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m. Small businesses can register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-small-business-town-hall-registration-100930223014.

The grant program will be coordinated by the City’s Department of Economic and Housing Development in partnership with the United Way of Essex County and Invest Newark, with funding from local funding, federal funding, and private sources, including Prudential and Invest Newark.

 “Prudential has long recognized that Newark’s small businesses are a catalytic engine driving our hometown’s economic growth. Our thriving city depends on these businesses not only for the services and amenities they provide, but also for quality local jobs and the ecosystem of opportunity they create for new entrepreneurs,” said Daryl Shore, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Prudential Financial. “Prudential is proud to support our small business neighbors in this time of need through this public-private partnership identified as a top priority by Mayor Baraka.”

“The purpose of this initiative is to quickly create and mobilize resources to ensure Newark small businesses persevere through this pandemic,” said Bernel Hall, the President and CEO of Invest Newark.

Allison Ladd, the City’s Director of Economic and Housing Development, said the information received from the webinar and applications “will also help us assess the needs of our small business community to see how we can continue to help moving forward.” Director Ladd also said the Newark economy is dependent now more than ever on businesses helping one another.

“We encourage all businesses to hire and buy local to help stimulate the Newark economy,” said Director Ladd. “The City’s two partners, Newark Alliance and Invest Newark, are the best conduit to understand these needs.”

In the coming days, Mayor Baraka will be announcing details of the other five programs.

They include:

  • Approximately $1 million investment in rapid, short-term rental housing for 300 of the most vulnerable Newark residents, including those without permanent addresses.
  • Up to $1 million investment in community-based non-profits that serve Newark residents.
  • A $1 million investment in the “Live Newark” program to provide down payment and rehabilitation funds for up to 100 Newark homeowners.
  • Up to $750,000 arts initiative investment that will assist up to 30 arts and cultural organizations with operating funds and capital funds.
  • Also, the Mayor has directed the tax assessor to accept applications from building owners with business tenants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. The buildings will be reassessed to reduce the taxes owed by the building and the tax savings will be passed along to the small business tenants in form of a rent reduction.
For more information on these programs, please email EHD@ci.newark.nj.us.

The announcement supports the Mayor’s strategic approach to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the City of Newark. Earlier this month, Mayor Baraka placed a moratorium on evictions in Newark for 60 days and provided a 60-day grace period for payments for City taxes and water and sewer bills.

Those needing immediate assistance for a business located in the City of Newark, please contact the Newark Economic & Housing Development Department at EHD@ci.newark.nj.us with Small Business Impact Grant on subject line.

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