Small businesses across New Jersey struggle amid pandemic, inflation
It is National Small Business Week and many business owners in New Jersey are urging customers to support local businesses. But many mom and pop shops are in turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It comes at a time when the state is sitting on billions of federal COVID money.
Jacquemiel White says he is living out his dream. A health nut running a juice bar, he was driving a truck before starting the business, so he's used to hard work. But he says owning a business is like nothing else.
“It’s a lot harder owner your own business that you have to stay on top of everything. There’s always something to do,” White says.
He and his partner opened Juice Café Hackensack in the middle of the pandemic. They say business is growing after some tense months.
But thousands of others in the state could no longer endure the tumult.
“We just never came back from it. The prices got astronomical,” says Lisa Marie Spinella, the former owner of Doughology.
She shut down her Atlantic Highlands doughnut shop after COVID, soaring prices and a labor shortage proved to be too much to handle.
"You know, it was heartbreaking. I lost my staff so if it wasn't myself or my children unfortunately no one else could work,” she says.
She's not alone. Long time restaurants are empty, and storefronts are bare across the state.
“New Jersey small businesses are still trying to find their way. Still trying to recover,” says Tom Bracken, president & CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce.
He is calling on the state to do more to help small businesses.
Less than 1% of Gov. Phil Murphy’s $50 billion budget is for Main Street, even as small businesses are almost the entire economy. And the governor is still sitting on billions in federal covid money.
Bracken says that the $50 million the governor plans to spend on small businesses needs to go up to nearly $3 billion to make it work.