Newark creates emergency assistance program to help fund small business

As small business owners across the country wait to hear if they will get a loan through a federal program, Newark is going a different route by creating a grant program to help small businesses in the Brick City.

News 12 Staff

Apr 28, 2020, 2:51 AM

Updated 1,447 days ago

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As small business owners across the country wait to hear if they will get a loan through a federal program, Newark is going a different route by creating a grant program to help small businesses in the Brick City.
Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea located on Halsey Street in Newark served primarily college students and commuters. But both types of customers disappeared once the pandemic occurred.
“The business was growing. And we were at the point where we thought come spring, it was really going to take off for us,” says owner DJ Luccarelli.
But after eight months in business, Newark started to shut down due to the virus. Luccarelli said that he tried to stay open, but found it to be difficult after only two weeks.
“Our business was down almost 90%. So, we were down to like 10% of our normal sales,” he says.
Forced to close the doors to shop, Luccarelli says that he applied for - but like so many in New Jersey - didn't get in on the first round of the federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans. But he says that Newark came through for him with a $10,000 small business emergency grant.
“It really will help me. It will truly help me pay some outstanding bills. And it will also help me, hopefully, when I open,” Luccarelli says.
Photos: Your Coronavirus Pandemic Experience
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Newark Economic & Housing Development Director and Deputy Mayor Allison Ladd says that the program is meant to help reach “Main Street” businesses.
“We’re trying to reach people who won’t have access to other funding,” she says.
The program is only available to Newark businesses with up to 10 employees, which have also suffered financial loss due to the pandemic.
“We want to see them reopen and continue to be the fabric of our city,” says Ladd. “So, this was just one step for us to be able to provide some assistance.”
Newark awarded 21 grants in the first round, which were funded by Prudential Insurance and administered by the United Way.
The city is taking applications through April 30 and right now has enough money to assist about 250 businesses. City officials say that they are looking for other partners to provide more grant money.


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