Gopal “Hospitality Emergency Loan Program” Approved by Senate

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal that would establish a New Jersey Hospitality Emergency Loan Program, which would provide immediate financial assistance for struggling hospitality businesses during the COVID-19 emergency. The program would be based on the Delaware program of the same name.

The program, which would provide financial relief for restaurants, bars, hotels, craft beverage producers, caterers, banquet halls, and other hospitality industry businesses in New Jersey, would allow these designated small businesses and nonprofits to apply for no-interest loans of up to $10,000 per business per month. Loans would be provided only for immediate, non-avoidable, non-personnel costs such as rent and utilities. Each loan would have a 10-year term, with payments deferred for nine months.

Under the bill (S2371), $100 million allocated to New Jersey under the CARES Act would be used for small business initiatives within the EDA. The New Jersey Hospitality Emergency Loan Program, once established, would be among the first distributors of these funds.

“With demand plummeting and quarantines and curfews in place across New Jersey, thousands of Garden State restaurants, bars, hotels, and other hospitality-related small businesses are seeing tremendous damage to their bottom-lines, putting their businesses at-risk for bankruptcy, eviction, or foreclosure,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch). “It’s critical for our state to step in and make sure that these small businesses and mom-and-pop stores can stay afloat through these difficult times.”

Eligible businesses must have been in operation for at least a year and have annual revenue beneath $2 million, or beneath $1 million if the business has been open between 6 and 12 months. In order to prove eligibility, a business must provide documentation showing that it has been current for at least 80 percent of payments over the past 12 months and is not past due on its most recent payment on any bill for which it is applying for relief. This can be done through proof of payments or a letter from the entity to which the money was due.

The bill now proceeds to the Governor's desk to be signed.