NJEDA set to open Small Business Lease Grant Program applications

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced Sept. 15 that it plans to open applications for its Small Business Lease Grant Program on Oct. 20. The $10 million pilot program will help revitalize downtowns and main streets by offsetting a portion of the cost associated with businesses and nonprofit organizations leasing street-level space. It is the first of several programs the NJEDA will launch in the coming months under the Main Street Recovery Program. Created under the Economic Recovery Act of 2020, the Main Street Recovery Program is a $100 million small business support program that will fund multiple financial assistance products aimed at supporting the growth and success of small businesses in New Jersey. More information is available at https://www.njeda.com/main-street-recovery-fund/.

Starting Oct. 20, eligible businesses and nonprofit organizations that are entering new or amended market rate leases can apply for a pair of grants totaling up to 20 percent of annual lease payments. The first grant will be paid to entities immediately after they are approved for the program and execute the grant agreement, and the second grant will be paid one year after lease payments have been paid. 

In order to qualify for the Small Business Lease Grant Program, businesses and nonprofits must enter a new lease, lease amendment or lease extension that includes at least 250 square feet of street-level office, commercial or retail space. The lease must have been executed within 12 months prior to the application and applicants must also commit to remaining in the leased space for at least five years. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that receive grants through these programs will also be required to agree to pay employees going forward for the five-year grant term at least $15 per hour or 120 percent of the minimum wage. Tipped employees are exempt from the $15 per hour requirement but must still be paid at least 120 percent of the minimum wage. Complete eligibility criteria, program details and additional information about the program can be found at https://www.njeda.com/small-business-lease-grant-program/.

In line with Gov. Phil Murphy’s commitment to equity, 40 percent of program funding will be set aside for businesses and nonprofit organizations in Opportunity Zone–eligible census tracts.

“The NJEDA has spent the past 18 months laser-focused on helping small businesses weather the financial impact of the COVID-19 in a fair and equitable manner,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “Now, thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this year, our Main Street Recovery Program will arm small businesses and nonprofits with the tools necessary to reopen and prepare for long-term success in the aftermath of the pandemic. Rolling out the Small Business Lease Grant Program is an important first step.”

Signed in January 2021, the Economic Recovery Act creates a package of programs that includes tax credits to incentivize job creation, new construction, and revitalization of brownfields and historic properties; financial resources for small businesses; support for new supermarkets and healthy food retailers in food-desert communities; new funding opportunities for early-stage companies in New Jersey; and support for the growing film and digital media industry.