From the Towns: Local officials talk about support available to small businesses

The Hopewell Valley thrives on our local small businesses. They are clearly on the minds of local officials as MercerMe received two separate letters from local officials, Pennington Mayor Joe Lawver and Hopewell Township Committee Member Kevin Kuchinski on the subject this week:

From Pennington Mayor Joe Lawver:

When walking around town, I have seen a lot of sidewalk art stating that “we are all in this together.” That may ring a bit hollow to you as you are forced to close or curtail operations and as you see your customers dwindle. Please know that Pennington’s elected officials, administration, and Economic Development Committee are with you. We know that we must keep all of our local businesses viable so that when the pandemic closures end, you will be there for us.  

In an attempt to ensure that you have timely access to critical relief and support programs for your businesses, we have begun an email campaign. Through it, we will share with you information about new programs that might help your business and of upcoming deadlines. We will also link you to the most helpful site for information on State and Federal programs.

First, I want to draw your attention to the New Jersey Economic Development Small Business Loan Program.  Last Monday they opened up applications for this program and exhausted their initial funding of $5 million in just one hour.  NJ EDA has made another $10 million available and reopened applications at on Monday, April 13th.

Second, this week, Pennington kicked off its campaign for local businesses. Banners and yard signs have been posted around town. The signs drive people to our website where we are maintaining two lists, one with information on Local Restaurants Offering Takeout and Deliver Services, and one with information on Retail and Service Businesses Open for Pickup, Delivery and Online.  Please check to see how your business is listed on these sites and email Kim Ha (kha@penningtonlibrary.org) to update your listing.  

Next, if you or your employees find yourselves in need of groceries at this time, the Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry will deliver to your business.  To register, go to the HV MFP website and register.  All information is kept completely confidential.  
Finally, here are the sites that we have found to be the most informative about Federal and State Programs.  

Thank you and please let us know if there is more that we can do to help you. 

Joe Lawver, Mayor, Pennington Borough


From Hopewell Township Committee Member Kevin Kuchinski:

While the COVID-19 crisis is first and foremost a health issue, it is also creating deep economic pain, particularly for small businesses in our community.

If you are a small business owner or work at a non-profit, I wanted to let you know that there is help available.  Specifically, there are federal assistance programs for small business, as well as state assistance programs through the NJ Economic Development Authority. Hopewell Township has been working to publicize these resources both on our website and on Facebook.  Please see the links to the NJEDA’s presentation on State assistance programs and the US Chamber of Commerce’s presentation on the CARES Act, which covers available federal assistance programs, on our website.

In particular, small business owners and non-profits should look at the Payroll Protection Program or PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the US Small Business Administration.  The former includes a provision for a forgivable loan to cover up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs.  These monies can be used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utility and other costs during the quarter ending June 30th.  The latter program can provide a loan to cover more substantial losses and includes immediate, forgivable assistance of $10,000.  Please work with your financial or legal professionals to determine which program is best for you.

Additionally, Mayor Kristin McLaughlin has been on numerous briefing calls with federal, state and local officials throughout the crisis and will continue to be present when opportunities to support small businesses are discussed. She has been a forceful advocate at the County, State and Federal levels and is working to let them know of our specific needs here in Hopewell Township.

Finally, I would like to touch on some ways each of us can help support local businesses – in the early days of the stay-at-home order, we helped publicize updates on the availability of groceries and household supplies at Pennington Market.

Many of our Valley restaurants are now offering curbside pick-up, farmers like Jess Niederer at Chickadee Creek Farm are offering new ordering and safe pick-up options for fresh produce, and local nurseries are offering online ordering and curbside pick-up for flowers and vegetable plants.

Please give back to all the local businesses that have supported our community by participating in these programs. I want to close by thanking our PBA who worked with local pizza shops and bought free pizzas for our community one night several weeks ago.

Together, we can get through this – let’s stand together in support of our local businesses and show them what it means to be Jersey Strong!

Kevin D. Kuchinski
Hopewell Township Committee

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