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Morris County Grant Program brings sunshine to four small businesses on the first day of summer

Checks Personally Delivered in Denville and Boonton on First Day of Summer

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – On the longest day of the year, the Morris County Board of County Commissioners delivered small business grants in the shortest time yet during a one-hour tour of Denville and Boonton.

Morris County Commissioner Stephen Shaw presented the first of four Morris County Small Business Grant Program check this morning to Jane Di Maria of Jane’s Hair Salon on Route 46 West in Denville. Her business had to close for three months in 2020, and struggled to regain clientele in the years that followed.

“Thank you. It’s great to be surviving it all. This helps,” Di Maria said, after receiving a check for more than $6,000.

Salons, spas and other personal care, grooming and exercise businesses faced heavy losses even after the state-ordered lockdowns were lifted in 2020, as social-distancing requirements forced many to reduce the number of customers permitted inside their operations.

“Thank you,” said Suyoung Jun, owner of Nail Xpressions at Hawkins Place plaza in Boonton, noting his business still had to pay rent while working through a downturn in customers. He received a $15,000 grant.

“New Jersey lost a third of its small businesses. We created this grant program to help those who survived and who are struggling to survive,” Commissioner Shaw told the grant recipients during his visit.

Morris County Commissioners have been delivering some of the grant checks to continue raising awareness of a program that still has more than $2 million in  grants available.

In talking with some business owners, Shaw noted that many survived by spending through savings and “cushion” funds designed to carry them through the normal course of a business year. The pandemic and aftermath challenged small business owners with much longer periods of losses.

“That was the problem,” said Bill Bottino of Four 3 Performance Laboratory Corp., a physical therapy business off Woonton Street in Boonton.

The company not only closed during the shutdown, but saw clientele visits drop whenever a COVID-19 spike was reported. The company qualified for a full $15,000 grant.

“We bled out so much money after that, just trying to keep the doors open, and we were not busy enough to cover the bills. Every payroll was getting chewed away. So this is the best time ever to have something to replenish all that,” Bottino said.

Laurel Durenberger, owner of the antique and vintage gift shop called Time’s Tin Cup on Main Street in Boonton, also qualified for a full $15,000 grant.

Durenberger said that her business was shut down for four months during the pandemic, yet she still needed to pay her rent and eventually moved to her current location.

“It’s been like a trauma. But I survived,” Durenberger said, noting her grant will help, in part, to cover the cost of shelves required to clearly display her merchandise in the smaller, new space.

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners created and launched the grant program on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, with $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and announcing Morris County Loves Small Business.

Small businesses and nonprofits alike are invited to apply. Most successful applicants have received the full $15,000 permitted in the grant program.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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