New Jersey's Hurricane Sandy plan is now in the hands of the federal government.
Gov. Chris Christie submitted the final draft of the plan this morning, following a preliminary announcement earlier this month and the completion of a seven-day public comment period.
The plan covers the first installment of Community Development Block Grant recovery assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, totaling a bit more than $1.8 billion.
"The programs designed as part of the Action Plan will help address the unmet needs of Sandy-impacted homeowners, renters and business owners as they rebuild their lives and recover from their losses," Christie said, in a press release.
The plan includes half a billion dollars to help small businesses and fund tourism promotion. Those funds will be administered through the state's Economic Development Authority in the form of grants, loan interest loans and a $25 million tourism marketing campaign.
"The EDA hopes to be able to get assistance to impacted businesses as quickly as possible to ensure they have the capital they need to resume, maintain or grow their operations," said Michele Brown, CEO of the agency.
The plan adds to the arsenal of assistance available for businesses, many of which are finding insurance isn't enough to fully repair their damaged property. Businesses already have been able to apply for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but groups like the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the state Chamber of Commerce have argued some businesses can't afford to take on additional debt, and instead need access to grants.
Of the $500 million set aside in the plan for business assistance, $300 million is earmarked for small-business grants.
HUD has 45 days to approve the plan, but the governor's office said they anticipate approval sometime in April.
New Jersey's two U.S. senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, said today they've sent a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, asking him to expedite the review.
Sandy "caused unprecedented damage, and New Jersey needs immediate access to our share of this new federal funding so that we can rebuild our homes, support businesses and strengthen public infrastructure to mitigate damage from future storms," the senators wrote in the letter.