Starting today and lasting for a week, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is accepting applications on its website for its Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program.

The loan program is part of a package of initiatives to support businesses and workers facing economic hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said while this is first and foremost a public health crisis, it's also an economic crisis for many small businesses. Many resources are needed to help stabilize the small businesses as much as possible.

He said one of those tools is a $10 million pool of funding that's available for zero-interest loans. It's a 10-year loan of up to $100,000 for businesses with under $5 million in annual revenue. The loan has zero interest for the first five years and up to 3% interest for the second five years.

Nonprofits are also eligible if, again, their revenue is under $5 million.

The focus is on small businesses in New Jersey hit the hardest by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sullivan said Main Street businesses that are either closed or experiencing significant declines in customers are high priority for the NJEDA.

"We want to make sure that when we come out of this period of hibernation that those businesses can get back up and running at close to full speed as possible as quickly as we can," said Sullivan.

It's important to help these businesses get back to normalcy, he added. Having the stores and shops that people are used to going to and being open and seeing the workers that many residents recognize is an important part of how the recovery will work.

Sullivan said he expects to get more applications that the NJEDA has the ability to fund. It's already happened with applications being accepted for a grant program. It's a $5 million pool of funding, which means they can fund between 1,000 and 2,000 businesses.

"We got 10,000 applications within the first 76 minutes of having that application posted," said Sullivan. That just goes to show there is an extraordinary amount of economic pain in the small business community right now.

To apply for the loan, visit www.cv.business.nj.gov.

The efforts of the state are part of a broader effort to provide a lot more resources for small businesses. The NJEDA expects to be oversubscribed for the loan like they were for the grant.

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