U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has sponsored a bill that would enable small businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus to apply for an interest-free loan of up to $2 million.
Under the “Small Business Relief from Communicable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act,” co-sponsored by Menendez and U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) small businesses would be able to access interest-free loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and society and we must work to protect the owners and their employees. It’s unfortunate that we must take these aggressive measures of social distancing but it’s the only way we can flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Menendez said in a statement.
“This bill would provide much needed relief and financial stability to the mom and pop shops along our country’s Main Streets. From the restaurants in Hoboken’s bustling downtown to the novelty stores along Ocean City’s boardwalk, we must ensure these businesses have the resources to recover from this economic downturn.”
Under current law, Economic Injury Disaster Loans are only available to businesses that are located in a declared disaster area and the spread of a communicable disease is not considered a disaster.
Earlier this week, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla called on the state’s senior senator, as well as U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep Albio Sires (D-8), requesting federal assistance for small businesses.
Hoboken was the first city in the country to institute a citywide curfew, as well as close bars and limit restaurants to serving takeout and making deliveries – which is now commonplace in New Jersey and beyond.
In response, Menendez’s office told HCV that legislation was already in the works and it turns out that was correct.
In related news, the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved New Jersey’s disaster declaration yesterday, allowing small businesses across the state to access EIDLs at a lower interest rate of 3.5 percent.
Furthermore, President Donald Trump (R) signed the Families First Act last night, a stimulus package with provisions to help displaced workers and small business owners.