Top Small Business Grants in NJ

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman · May 22, 2024 · 10 minute read

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Top Small Business Grants in NJ

There are over 953,000 small businesses in New Jersey, representing 99% of all businesses in the state. Collectively, NJ’s small business owners employ nearly 2 million individuals, which is over 49% of the state’s total workforce. To make it easier for small businesses to flourish in NJ, the state offers a range of funding opportunities, including small business grants. Unlike business loans, business grants generally do not need to be repaid.

While competition for small business grants in New Jersey can be stiff, it’s a good idea to explore any possible grant opportunities your startup or business might qualify for. Read on to learn more about how to get a small business grant in NJ, plus other ways you may be able to get the capital you need to start or grow your business in the Garden State.

Grants for Small Businesses in NJ

If you’re looking for small business grants in New Jersey, here are some options to consider.

Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG) Program

•  Program description: The FRIDG program provides independent NJ supermarkets and other eligible food retailers with funds to buy self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers.

•  Incentive: Receive up to $250,000 in reimbursements for buying self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers for grocery delivery.

•  General requirements:

◦  Be an independent or chain supermarket owner or other qualifying food retailer

◦  Have a physical retail location in New Jersey and the ability to service and make deliveries to a locker located in a designated food desert community (FDC)

◦  Be in good standing with NJ state regulators, including the Division of Taxation, Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL)

•  How to apply: You can complete and submit a FRIDG application through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) website.

NJ Small Business Improvement Grant

•  Program description: The NJ Small Business Improvement Grant offers partial reimbursement to eligible small business owners who make capital improvements or buy new furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

•  Incentive: Receive 50% of eligible total project costs up to $50,000.

•  General requirements:

◦  Be a small business that rents or owns commercial property

◦  
Complete a capital improvement project costing at least $5,000 or buy and install furniture, fixtures, and equipment costing at least $5,000

◦  Payment must have been made within the two years prior to your application date

◦  Provide a current tax clearance certificate prior to approval

◦  Be in good standing with the NJDOL and NJDEP

◦  Not be in default of any N.J. state assistance programs

◦  Be willing to pay wages that are the greater of $15 an hour or 120% of the minimum wage rate

◦  Remain in the location for at least two years for grants up to $25K or at least four years for all other grant award amounts

•  How to apply: You can complete and submit an NJ Small Business Improvement Grant application through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) website.

NJ Small Business Lease Grant

•  Program description: The NJ Small Business Lease Grant offers grant funding to cover a portion of lease payments for businesses and nonprofits leasing new or additional space.

•  Incentive: Two grant awards of 20% of the annual lease payments on a minimum 5-year lease term.

•  General requirements:

◦  Be a NJ small business or nonprofit with a minimum five-year lease term or longer

◦  Meet the following additional lease criteria:

■  Occupy first floor (street-level) space in the Garden State

■  Space must have dimensions between 250 and 10,000 square feet

■  You must have signed the lease within 12 months prior to applying for this NJ grant

■  The lease is considered market rate based on commercial real estate information

◦  Provide a current tax clearance certificate prior to approval

◦  Provide certification from the landlord showing you are current on lease payments

◦  Be in good standing with the NJDOL and NJDEP

◦  Not be in default of any NJ state assistance programs

◦  Be willing to pay wages that are the greater of $15 an hour or 120% of the minimum wage rate

◦  Commit to remaining in the leased facility for at least five years

•  How to apply: You can complete and submit an NJ Small Business Lease Grant application through the NJEDA website. Applicants who have applied for or received a license or a certification from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission are not eligible for this grant.

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Atlantic City Revitalization Grant Program

•  Program description: The Atlantic City Revitalization Grant Program is awarding grants between $1M and $10M for capital projects that address and improve the communities and neighborhoods within Atlantic City.

•  Incentive: Receive between $1M and $10M in grant funds to cover up to 50% of eligible capital project costs (including soft and hard construction costs).

•  General requirements:

◦  Be a for-profit or nonprofit entity that is overseeing a real estate development project and coordinating the activities related to the project

◦  Projects must be new construction for a commercial end use that addresses a community need, or be a renovation/restoration of a vacant (or partially vacant) building in need of repair

◦  The developer fee cannot exceed 8% of total project costs.

◦  All projects must be fully completed by the end of calendar year 2026 (as per US Treasury deadlines)

•  How to apply: Anyone interested in applying to the Atlantic City Revitalization Grant Program should email [email protected] to set up a call to discuss their application with NJEDA staff prior to applying.

Upskill: NJ Incumbent Worker Training Grant Program

•  Program description: This NJ upskilling grant program provides resources to support the training of current employees to help increase the competitiveness of both the employee and employer.

•  Incentive: Eligible NJ employers can receive up to 50% cost reimbursement assistance to train incumbent frontline employees to meet current and future occupational skill requirements.

•  General requirements:

◦  Be a NJ-based employer

◦  Have employees concentrated in one of the following nine strategic business sectors:

■  Advanced manufacturing

■  Clean energy

■  Film and digital media

■  Finance and professional services

■  Food and beverage (non-retail)

■  Life sciences

■  Offshore wind

■  Technology

■  Transportation and logistics

◦  Develop a job-training plan that would enhance the skills of existing employees to meet current and future business goals

◦  Commit to retain your trainees for at least six months after training is completed

◦  Provide a current tax clearance certificate

◦  Have a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

◦  Have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number

•  How to apply: Register with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s online IGX system and notify NJDOL of your intent to apply for the Upskill: NJ Incumbent Worker Training Grant.

Who Provides Small Business Grants in NJ?

State government agencies, including the NJEDA and the NJ Department of State, offer a variety of small business grants in New Jersey.

Do You Have to Pay Back a Small Business Grant?

Generally, no. Unlike small business loans, you typically do not need to repay the funds you receive through a small business grant. That said, small business grants typically come with terms and conditions, and you may be responsible for paying back the grant if you violate those terms.

You typically have to sign a funding agreement to accept a small business grant. Using the grant for an illegitimate purpose may violate the agreement and require business owners to pay back the grant.

In addition, small business grants may require you to spend the money by a certain date. You may also have to provide proof of payment and a written statement detailing how you’ve spent the grant.

Who Is Eligible for Small Business Grants in NJ?

Local business owners or operators of an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for small business grants in New Jersey.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy generally defines a small business as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. A small business with just a few employees, even self-employed individuals, may be eligible for small business grants.

What Industries Does NJ Support With Grants?

New Jersey offers grants supporting a variety of industries, including:

•  Advanced manufacturing

•  Clean energy

•  Film and digital media

•  Finance and professional services

•  Food and beverage (non-retail)

•  Life sciences

•  Offshore wind

•  Technology

•  Transportation and logistics

•  Retail trade (store and nonstore retailers)

NJ Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

Here are some resources for small and medium-sized businesses looking for funding in the Garden State.

New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC)

The NJSBDC is a statewide program that can provide NJ small business owners with the following services at no cost:

•  Business training courses, seminars, webinars, and workshops

•  Entrepreneur Certificate Program (ECP)

•  Confidential business counseling

Recommended: New York Small Business Grants

SBA District Office in NJ

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides resources and support to small business owners. The SBA’s New Jersey District Office in Newark serves all 21 counties in the Garden State.

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in NJ

If you don’t qualify for small business grants in NJ, you’re not necessarily out of funding options. Here are some other ways you may be able to get the capital you need to launch or grow your business in the Garden State.

NJ Microloan Lenders

Community-based nonprofits may offer microloans of anywhere from $500 to $50,000 to underserved small business owners in New Jersey, such as women and minorities. Interest rates tend to be low (or zero in some cases), and the qualification criteria are often less stringent compared with other business loans.

Microloans can provide an infusion of cash to get a startup off the ground or grow an existing business. However, you may need to provide a microlender with a personal guarantee and collateral in order to secure funding.

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New Jersey SMB Term Loans from Private Lenders

Many banks, credit unions, and online lenders in NJ offer term loans to small businesses. With this type of loan, you receive a lump sum of money up front then repay it (plus interest) over a set period of time. You can use the funds for a variety of business-related purposes, including expansion, buying equipment, and working capital.
Online alternative lenders tend to have more flexible eligibility criteria than traditional banks, making them a good option for businesses that are just starting out. However, interest rates tend to be higher.

Recommended: Grants for Maryland Small Business

NJ SBA Loans

The SBA offers a range of loan programs to help small businesses secure funding. These loans are partially guaranteed by the SBA, which reduces risk for lenders and increases accessibility for businesses. The 7(a) loan program is one of the most popular SBA loans, since it provides funds that can be used for a variety of business needs. SBA loans typically offer longer repayment terms and lower interest rates compared to conventional business loans.

Business Lines of Credit

A business line of credit provides businesses with flexible access to funds up to a predetermined limit. Unlike traditional loans, a line of credit allows businesses to borrow only what they need, when they need it. This flexibility can be helpful for managing cash flow, covering unexpected expenses, and taking advantage of growth opportunities.

Business lines of credit typically have variable interest rates and can be secured or unsecured, depending on the lender and the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is specifically designed to help businesses acquire needed equipment. The equipment itself serves as collateral for the loan, which can make it easier to get approved. This type of financing can be used to purchase machinery, vehicles, technology, and other essential equipment. Terms for equipment financing vary based on the lender and the type of equipment, but generally feature fixed interest rates and repayment terms from three to ten years.

Recommended: Types of Small Business Loan Fees

The Takeaway

New Jersey small businesses qualify for grants, ranging from state or local governments to private sources.

If you’re seeking financing for your business, SoFi can help. On SoFi’s marketplace, you can shop top providers today to access the capital you need. Find a personalized business financing option today in minutes.


With SoFi’s marketplace, it’s fast and easy to search for your small business financing options.

FAQ

How do you get a small business grant in New Jersey?

To find a small business grant in New Jersey, you might start by contacting the state’s Economic Development Administration and your local Small Business Development Center. You typically need to submit a grant application as a qualified small business owner to be considered for a small business grant in New Jersey.

How hard is it to get a business loan in New Jersey?

To get a business loan from a bank, you typically need to have strong financials and have been in business for at least two years. Online alternative lenders tend to have more flexible qualification criteria for small business loans but generally charge higher interest rates.

What is the easiest SBA loan to get approved for?

There’s no guarantee you’ll get approved for any U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, but SBA microloans can be one of the easier ones to get if you’re a new business owner. Startups may be eligible for SBA microloans of up to $50,000. If you’re looking for a streamlined application process, you may want to look into an SBA Express loan.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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