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March 31, 2014


Trenton, NJ – Demonstrating the Christie Administration’s commitment to the recovery of small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) today announced significant progress in the award of Stronger NJ Business Grants to impacted businesses throughout the state in support of their recovery.

Since February 10th, 97 businesses have been approved for Stronger NJ Business Grants, representing 29-percent of grants approved since the program launched last May.

“Many Sandy-impacted businesses are still recovering and getting help to eligible businesses remains a top priority,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Michele Brown. ”The steps we have taken to streamline the application and review process have clearly helped to move applications forward at a much faster pace, and we expect that momentum to continue.  Every eligible business that has applied will get grant funding.”

To date, 334 businesses have been approved for grants totaling $16.2 million through the program, which offered grants of up to $50,000 to New Jersey businesses damaged by the storm.  Additional applications are under review by EDA business advisors and new grants are approved every day. The deadline for the program was December 31, 2013.

Recently approved grants include businesses from impacted communities in both north and south Jersey, such as Rayco II World of Spoilers in Little Ferry and Merry Go Round Early Childhood Center in Teaneck, and Mueller’s Bakery in Bay Head and Eastern Engine Service in Beach Haven.

Booth Movers in Moonachie lost inventory consisting largely of boxes and equipment, including damage to their solar electrical system, which resulted in increased utility costs.  Booth’s largest loss was over $1 million in custom kitchen cabinets in storage at their facility, a service the company offers to clients building new homes or undergoing kitchen renovations.  They also had to relocate to temporary office space while their warehouse and offices were remodeled.

“For us, the effects of the storm really snowballed, creating a gap in cash flow.  The Stronger NJ Business Grant has helped us close that gap, fill in where insurance fell short, and get back to where we were prior to the storm,” said Adam Padla, Vice President, Booth Movers.

In West Atlantic City, Essl’s Dugout had been serving breakfast and lunch to the locals and tourists for 41 years when Superstorm Sandy hit.  Upon returning to their restaurant the day after the storm, Sharon and Bob Essl found everything had been damaged by two feet of water.  The walls and floor were soaked and much of their equipment destroyed – including a large commercial refrigerator.

After cleaning and discarding spoiled food and damaged furnishings, the Essls reopened just four days after the storm.  To help them recover, the Essls turned to the Stronger NJ Business Grant program. “The grant has helped us get our feet back on the ground and get the Dugout back in order. There are some things that will never be the same, but after 42 years in business we are good at adapting to change,” said Sharon Essl, Owner, Essl’s Dugout.

The Stronger NJ Business Grant program is funded through New Jersey’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Similar to other Sandy relief grant programs, there are strict federal eligibility requirements to which the EDA and applicants must comply.

Changes to the application and review process which helped to accelerate grant approvals include:

  • Implementing a “team approach” with business advisors, ensuring two advisors are assigned to each application so someone is always readily available to answer questions.
  • Reducing the amount of documentation required to begin the grant review process, as allowed by HUD.
  • Targeting expenses which can be processed for reimbursement most rapidly.
  • Leveraging federal partnerships, including SBA and NFIP, to verify funding information to reduce the burden on applicants.

The EDA also administers the Stronger NJ Business Loan Program, which offers loans with no interest or principal payments for up to 24 months, and the Stronger NJ Neighborhood and Community Revitalization (NCR) program, which provides grants for community projects that help to improve business districts and the quality of life in areas impacted by the storm.

For more information on the Stronger NJ Business programs, visit or call EDA’s Sandy hotline at 1-855-SANDY-BZ (1-855-726-3929).