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There's no short selling the fact that small businesses have been dealt a tough and sometimes unbearable dagger to their chances of staying open and being able to pay bills.

The Monmouth County Freeholders/Commissioners since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic have used Federal CARES Act funding to help businesses with PPE and other Covid related expenses, which has helped many businesses in the area.

Still, with capacity at only 35-percent, rough waters lye ahead in what's been a brutal month for weather at the Jersey Shore.

In Middletown, the township committee has announced they've provided 29 small businesses with a check for $15,000 through their Economic Relief Program.

All Natural Dry Cleaners, Code Ninjas, Greens & Grains, Middletown Pancake House, Monmouth Museum, No Limits Cafe, Rock’n Music Academy and Zeek’s Tees are the recipients of $15,000 checks.

The other 21 businesses and non-profit organizations in Middletown will be awarded $422,500 through this initiative.

The committee said that of the 29 small businesses who applied, 26 were awarded $15,000, and the other three were awarded $10,000, $10,500, and $12,500 since that is the amount the business owner requested.

Their relief program provides financial assistance to eligible small businesses and non-profit organization in the municipality that have been affected by the pandemic.

Funding was provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Department of Housing and Urban Development via the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) Program.

“During this challenging environment, we are very excited to be able to provide some financial assistance to our dedicated and hard-working small business owners who continue to serve our community as well as employ locally,” Middletown Township Mayor Tony Perry who also serves on the board of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Business owners will have this money in their hands before the end of the month and we hope that it will not only enable them to stay afloat, but also thrive as COVID restrictions ease up.”

Deputy Mayor Rick Hibell, who himself is a business owner says he understands the financial burden the pandemic has had on businesses. “This is one way we are able to give back to our small business owners who have been putting their heart and soul into trying to adapt to the continuous blows COVID has dealt.”

Small business owners who have been awarded funds are saying thank you to Mayor Perry and the Middletown Committee.

“Mayor Perry and the Township Committee are so deeply committed to this community and understand the critical needs of nonprofits and small businesses affected by the ongoing limitations due to COVID,” Erika Hellstrom, Executive Director of the Monmouth Museum (765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft), said. “The funding enables the Museum to continue moving forward during these truly uncertain times.”

“Diners who don't yet feel comfortable with inside dining are not venturing out to restaurants, yet our bills and expenses remain unchanged from pre-COVID levels,” Kitsa Mavrode, owner of the Middletown Pancake House (1610 NJ-35), said. “We intend to use the MERP funds to continue hiring local residents, extend table spacing, and erect an outdoor tent and tables when warm weather arrives.”

“This financial relief will give us the opportunity to rebuild our student base and move forward in our 15th year of offering music instruction in Middletown,” Howard L. Edwards Jr., owner, Rock’n Music Academy (500 NJ-35, Union Square Shopping Center), said.

“Like many small business, we are still recovering from the effects of the 2020 shut down and capacity restrictions due to COVID,” Stadi Sinclair, owner of Code Ninjas (498 NJ-35, Union Square Shopping Center), said. “Having lost over 60% of our customers, the MERP grant will provide a financial safety net that will us allow us to pay staff and operational costs while we rebuild and regain students.”

“Because of the pandemic, we are down quite a bit in sales,” said Frank Zechman, owner of Zeek’s Tees (515 NJ-36, Belford), said. “This is normally a very slow time for us, plus being hit with all of this snow, so I thank Middletown Township for helping out our small businesses to help get through this very tough time."


You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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