MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The nonprofit Growing Stage — The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey in Netcong and the Sabor Latino Restaurant in Dover were Monday’s recipients of $15,000 checks through the Morris County Small Business Grant Program, as the Morris County Board of County Commissioners continued to assist shops and nonprofits hit hard by the pandemic.
Sabor Latino was a particularly special stop for Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen and Deputy Director John Krickus because owners Wilson and Maria Vasquez had opened their business to host a kick-off for the grant program on Valentine’s Day. With the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Morris County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and other partners, Wilson and Maria permitted their restaurant to serve as a one-day staging area for owners of Dover businesses, including their own, to apply for up to $15,000 grants under the program on Feb. 14.
“On behalf of the Morris County Board of Commissioners, it is my pleasure to present you with this grant,” said Director Selen to Wilson and Maria, noting the family business, operating since 2007, was substantially impacted by the pandemic.
Joining the check presentation was Dover Mayor Carol Blackman, Chamber Vice President Michael Stanzilis and Ed Ramirez of the Morris County EDC.
“This is an example of different levels of government coming together … all working for nonprofits and, most importantly, to help out our small businesses,” said Deputy Director Krickus, noting the county built the program using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“This is a visionary approach to helping small businesses, and we really appreciate what the Morris County Commissioners have done with this funding. We are not seeing programs like this elsewhere,” Stanzilis said.
Later in the day, Netcong Mayor Joseph Nametko joined Commissioner Krickus in presenting a $15,000 check to Stephen L. Fredericks, founder and Executive Director of The Growing Stage—The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary.
“It has been a difficult time for all of the arts … We thank you for this,” said Fredericks, as Commissioner Krickus presented at check.
The Growing Stage is a non-profit professional performing arts center for young audiences, and as with all performing arts centers, the pandemic essentially shut down operations for many months, leaving the center struggling to recover. The presentation was held in the lobby of the historic Palace Theater in Netcong, where The Growing Stage established its home in 1994.
In attendance for the presentation were Morris Arts Executive Director Tom Werder and Growing Stage Business Manager Stephanie Kingsbury in attendance.
Nearly 600 small businesses and nonprofits have applied for grants under the unique Morris County program, which is designed to help shops who overcame the pandemic, but continued to face financial impacts as they struggled to maintain their business.
The Commissioners dedicated $10 million to the program, and $3 million currently remains uncommitted. Morris County is still accepting applications.
Most of applications heading for final approval will provide each of the qualified businesses and nonprofits the maximum grant amount of $15,000. While the remaining applications are still being reviewed, the program remains open to new applications and there is no cost to apply.
The Small Business Grant Program eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Business has 25 or fewer full-time employees (or equivalent)
- In operation since Jan. 1, 2019
- Located within Morris County
- Less than $5 million in sales/revenue
- Proof of a decline in sales/increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Federal guidelines covering the grant program will determine exactly which expenses qualify for coverage under the grant program and which applications may be approved.
The grants are capped at $15,000 per applicant. However, business owners and nonprofits are encouraged to submit applications that include all costs they believe may qualify for the grant, even if the total amount of a single claim exceeds $15,000.
A final review may determine that some costs submitted for consideration are not covered under the program guidelines. However, by submitting all expenses that may qualify, applicants increase the possibility of getting the maximum amount of grant dollars possible.