Gov. Murphy signs bill to provide $135M in federal aid to small businesses in NJ

Tens of millions of dollars in relief are on the way to New Jersey small businesses thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday.

News 12 Staff

Jul 22, 2021, 9:15 AM

Updated 996 days ago


Tens of millions of dollars in relief are on the way to New Jersey small businesses thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday.
Applications for the grants are now available to restaurants, nonprofits and arts organizations. But for some businesses, while the aid is welcomed, it is still not all that they need.
“There was never in my mind that I was going to close it. Because these people there are loyal to me, need a job,” says K.T. Tranh.
Tranh has owned the Simply Vietnamese restaurant in Tenafly for more than 10 years. But March 2020 turned her world upside down because of the pandemic.
“There was nobody around. The streets were empty and we just – personally, we didn’t know what was going on,” she says. “No meat, no food, no toilet paper, no masks.”
She says that her business plummeted and she had to adjust to doing takeout only. Workers left due to fears of the virus. But at a critical moment, the state gave her a lifeline of federal stimulus money.
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“It was only $6,000, but I cried. I really cried, because $6,000 when you’re against the wall is a lot of money,” says Tranh.
The governor used Simply Vietnamese as a backdrop to sign the business bill into law. It sends $135 million more federal dollars to small businesses in New Jersey, including $15 million to bars and restaurants, which are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.
But a worker shortage is still impacting many New Jersey businesses.
“I try to call all my workers back and nobody’s coming back,” says Tranh.
Tranh says her workers now are mostly high school students, who will start leaving for college in two weeks. Much of her regular wait staff didn't come back.
“They left because of COVID and now they’re on unemployment. I guess it pays them more. So they’re not coming back,” she says.
Despite over $650 million in aid to small businesses, one-third of the small businesses in the state have failed since the pandemic began. And despite concerns that an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits are keeping people at home – a point the governor partly concedes is true –the governor says that he has no intention of ending that program.
“There are so many people still hurting. And overwhelmingly it's helping them, even if it may be keeping some people out of the workforce,” Murphy said.
Gov. Murphy's Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli said in a statement that the governor is "out of touch" and called the bill signing "a political photo op."

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