(TRENTON) – Earlier this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced changes to its economic injury declaration process that will allow more small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for disaster assistance loans.
Disaster assistance loans are typically only available to small businesses within counties identified as disaster areas by a Governor. The loans will now be available to businesses statewide that are affected by the novel coronavirus.
There are over 861,000 small businesses in New Jersey, which employ 1.8 million people. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo has helped run his family’s fruit and produce business, B.F. Mazzeo in Northfield, Atlantic County, for nearly 30 years.
“As a small business owner, I sympathize with business owners who’ve been forced to make impossible decisions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Some have needed to lay off employees, cut their hours or close entirely. This pandemic will cause immeasurable harm on our business community, and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better. That’s why this announcement from the SBA is beyond welcome news. With these changes, it’s my hope that more businesses will be able to find relief during this difficult time.”
Additionally, states will be able to more easily qualify for SBA disaster assistance under the revised criteria. States previously were required to provide documentation certifying that at least five small businesses suffered substantial economy injury as a result of a disaster, with at least one business located in each county declared as a disaster area. Under the changes, states will only be required to certify that at least five small businesses statewide have been affected.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy. We take pride in shopping small in New Jersey,” said Mazzeo. “Plain and simple, we’re going to need help from the federal government to help our small businesses weather this storm. I’m thrilled to see the SBA step up and act swiftly to expand resources.”
For more information or to apply for assistance, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.