Montclair Rolls Out COVID Recovery Plan For Local Businesses

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MONTCLAIR, NJ — Montclair will be taking several steps, including closing some streets and offering limited free parking, as a way to help local business owners cope with the crushing effects of the coronavirus crisis.

According to municipal officials, Montclair’s COVID-19 recovery plan was developed by the township council with input from local business leaders. It follows guidance from the state, the CDC and local health experts.

Some highlights include:

  • Make $150,000 in township grant funding available to township small-businesses, to the BID and to business associations to be used to cover costs for equipment or other necessaries that are related expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 (see details below)

  • Offer the first 15 minutes of parking at meters for free

  • Waive (or refund if already paid) the 2020 sidewalk café permit fee

Montclair officials also said the township will be closing some streets to create additional outdoor space for patrons, a move that may give a big boost to restaurants seeking to partially reopen as per Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent order.

“Township staff and business leaders will analyze streets to be temporarily closed while ensuring accessibility to sidewalks and compliance with Gov. Murphy’s executive orders,” officials stated.

Officials hope that Montclair’s recovery plan can have an immediate impact.

“Free first 15 minutes of parking at meters is effective immediately, and the township is already working on refunding businesses that paid the 2020 sidewalk café permit fee,” municipal officials said Tuesday. “Street closures for retailers and restaurants to conduct business will be announced and promoted in advance.”

“I know of no other New Jersey municipality that has offered grant funding to its businesses for recovery purposes,” Mayor Robert Jackson said. “It is hoped that the grants and other measures put in place will help our local businesses get back on their feet during the pandemic, while also helping them adopt best practices to keep their employees and customers, and our community safe.”

Jason Gleason, executive director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID), said local businesses have been burning the candle on both ends trying to make it through the COVID-19 crisis.

Some ways they’ve been coping include curbside pickup, takeout orders, and gift certificate sales, Gleason said.

“Now, with reopening, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the township to develop effective solutions to boost our business community, create opportunities for people to safely shop and dine, and preserve the vibrancy and energy of Montclair,” Gleason said.

“Local businesses came to us asking for assistance and it was incumbent upon us to help in whatever way we can,” First Ward Councilor William Hurlock said. “We are pleased to partner with our business communities so they may come back even stronger from these unprecedented times and, as the state returns to some semblance of normality, it is our responsibility to provide opportunities in ways that state, CDC and local regulations allow.”

Mayor-Elect Sean Spiller said that the virus has had a “devastating” economic impact on the local economy.

“Small businesses make up the heart of our thriving shopping districts,” Spiller said. “These unique local government grants, and additional steps we are taking will provide local business owners and their employees a much-needed measure of assistance during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.”

Emergency Assistance Grant Program

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be available at a later date.

The requirements for business grant eligibility include:

1. Applicants must be located in the Township of Montclair

2. Applicants must have 25 or fewer employees

3. The grant cap is $1,000 per business

4. Small businesses, sole proprietors, home-based companies and non-profits are eligible

5. Applicants must be registered to do business in the State of New Jersey

6. Applicants must be and sign a certification indicating:

  1. that they are in good standing with the New Jersey Department of Labor

  2. attesting to the fact that any grant funding will be used exclusively for expenditures related to actions taken by the Applicant to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency

  3. acknowledging that they must keep for 12 years receipts associated with the spending of grant funding

  4. acknowledging that they must participate in any audit conducted by any regulatory body or agency in connection with the spending of grant funding

  5. that they hold harmless the township

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This article originally appeared on the Montclair Patch

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