New Jersey small businesses can now purchase discounted personal protective equipment like masks, gowns, gloves and more through the PPE Access Program recently launched by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

State officials have said that the pandemic is not just a health crisis but also an economic one for small businesses.

NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said businesses want to be able to protect their workers, staff and customers but they need proper PPE to do it. He said it's been a challenge to get these products.

This program is a way for small businesses in New Jersey to access significant volumes of PPE through an online platform and receive a 10% discount just for being a New Jersey small business. In a couple of weeks, deeper discounts will be rolled out via a coupon program. As winter approaches and more businesses such as restaurants move activities indoors, plenty of PPE is going to be needed to operate safely and fully.

Business can sign up at cv.business.nj.gov.

The NJEDA has approved Office Depot and Boxed as designated vendors. Sullivan said more vendors will be added in the coming weeks.

Next week, there will be an application process in which small businesses will be eligible for a 25% discount, up to $400. Businesses in one of the 715 census tracts that were eligible to be designated as Opportunity Zones can receive up to $500 in discounts.

"It can become a full time job, particularly if you're a small business, chasing down the right kind and the right amount of PPE to stay open, so hopefully this is making it simpler, more affordable for small businesses to get the products and the equipment that they need," Sullivan said.

The state Department of Health helped the NJEDA figure what kind of PPE should be available.