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Sandy biz grant details could come next week

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    More details could come next week on the governor's plan to award grants to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy.


    More details could come next week on the governor's plan to award grants to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

    Gov. Chris Christie announced Jan. 31 he would use federal disaster relief money to set up a grant program for small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.

    In a press conference last week, Christie said the details of the program are still being worked out.

    "We're putting together the state plan as we speak," he said. "We hope to be submitting it by Feb. 18 to HUD for review and approval. So until that time we won't have anything to say specifically about it."

    The money will be distributed through Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last week, New Jersey's congressional delegation announced the allocation of $1.8 billion in CDBG money to New Jersey, to be used to help homeowners and businesses. Additional allocations are expected soon.

    In creating the grant program, Christie approved one of the key requests of the business community. Without the grant program, businesses hurt by the storm were left looking to the Small Business Administration for loans. While loans might be a feasible solution for many companies, others are unable or unwilling to take on additional debt to rebuild. Business groups hope the grant program will be enough to convince those on-the-fence business owners to rebuild.

    While Christie wouldn't give specifics about criteria for the grant program, he said the one thing he knows for sure is that the state grants will be distributed through the Economic Development Authority.

    He said state officials are looking at HUD's criteria and past practices as they set up the grant program.
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