MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – With a sputter and a spark, the Morris County Small Business Grant Program kicked off its online portal on Valentine’s Day to begin accepting on-line applications for grants to aid small companies, entrepreneurs and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic.
About 200 Morris County small business owners and nonprofits successfully filed for grants at morriscountysmallbusinessgrant.com in the first day it was open, after a brief glitch and delay in the morning launch. The applications began to come in after the first hour, and approximately 30 business owners and nonprofits from Dover were assisted in filing their online applications at the Sabor Latino Restaurant on North Morris Street during a kick-off press conference.
“I have to be honest, we are both excited and a little nervous,” said Director Tayfun Selen of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners at the kick-off.
“We are excited because we believe this is a real opportunity to help small businesses and nonprofits who struggled through the pandemic. We have committed $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars toward this project. If successful, we are ready to add more. But it depends on the response by small businesses and nonprofits. Many are very busy, and may not know of this opportunity. Everyone here today must help us reach them,” Selen said.
Deputy Director Commissioner John Krickus also addressed the restaurant gathering of federal, state, and local officials and about 60 business owners who attended to hear about the program.
“This is an important day and an important program we have launched. The small business owners here today know better than anyone the hurdles they faced – and continue to face — to stay afloat during this pandemic. Many shops and companies did not survive. What we are doing today is hopefully delivering some relief to those who made it this far,” Krickus said.
Among the speakers were Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Morris County Chamber President & CEO Meghan Hunscher and Ed Ramirez of the Economic Development Corporation. Also in attendance were Commissioners Stephen H. Shaw, Deborah Smith and Douglas Cabana, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, Dover Mayor Carolyn Blackman, Dover Aldermen and dignitaries from Valley National Bank and Solix Consulting Solutions, which is operating the grant portal under a contract with Morris County.
Valley National Bank and Solix representatives staffed a row of laptops to assist local businesses in Dover for about two hours to navigate the grant portal and successfully file applications. Program supporters are working to establish additional outreach efforts for businesses and nonprofits in the coming weeks.
The program will provide grants of up to $15,000 to reimburse small businesses and non-profit organizations for specific pandemic recovery expenses incurred on or after March 3, 2021 – a timeline established under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which is the source of the funding.
The Small Business Grant Program eligibility requirements include:
- Available to businesses with 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 are covered by the grant program and which applications may be approved. However, Morris County and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce encouraged small business owners and nonprofits to carefully review the information posted to the webpage containing the application portal – morriscountysmallbusinessgrant.com – and submit an application.
“Checks are not going out in a week or even in the next month. It will take time to process claims. I know time is money in small business, but this effort is worth your time. If you are eventually approved, you can receive up to $15,000. If you get only part of your expenses covered, that’s more than what you started with,” Selen said.