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Top Small Business Grants in NJ

NJ Small Business Grants
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated November 14, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
New Jersey has about 950,000 small business owners who can apply for small business grants. Submitting an application and competing for N.J. small business grants can help you grow your small or medium-sized enterprise in the Garden State.The N.J. economy has a gross domestic product of $745.4 billion as of 2022. That’s the ninth largest GDP in the United States out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Small businesses contribute to the nation’s economy.Small and medium-sized firms exported about $13.1 billion worth of goods from New Jersey in 2020, which ranks sixth in the nation out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau export data.Below we highlight some of the top small business grants in N.J. that you can explore.

Grants for Small Businesses in NJ

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

Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG) Program

  • Program description: The FRIDG program provides independent N.J. supermarkets and other eligible food retailers with funds to buy self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers.
  • Incentive: Receive up to $250K in reimbursements for buying self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers for grocery delivery.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be an independent 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 authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) to accept benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) online
    • Be in good standing with N.J. 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 N.J. 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 up to $50K in reimbursements for making interior or exterior capital improvements or buying and installing new furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be a small business that rents or owns commercial property
    • Complete a capital improvement project costing at least $5K or buy and install furniture, fixtures, and equipment costing at least $5K
    • Project must have commenced on or after March 9, 2020, and within the two years prior to your application date
    • 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
    • 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 N.J. Small Business Improvement Grant application through the NJEDA website.

NJ Small Business Lease Grant

  • Program description: The N.J. Small Business Lease Grant offers two separate grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations offsetting a portion of their annual lease payments for new or additional space.
  • Incentive: Receive an initial grant amount equal to 20% of your annual lease costs, and you can receive another grant amount equal to 20% of your annual lease costs upon making 12 months of lease payments.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be an N.J. 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
      • Operate in between 250–10,000 square feet of commercial or retail space
      • Have signed the lease within 12 months prior to applying for this N.J. 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 N.J. state assistance programs
    • 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 N.J. 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.

New Jersey State Trade Expansion Program (NJ STEP) Grant

  • Program description: The New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) offers STEP grants that can help you export your goods and services from the Garden State to foreign markets.
  • Incentive: Receive reimbursement for eligible business expenses, including your costs of participating in international and U.S. trade events and designing international marketing materials.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be a small business registered in, and domestic to, New Jersey
    • Have at least one year of active business experience
    • Be compliant with your N.J. taxes
    • Manufacture goods or produce services that contain at least 51% U.S. content
    • Be registered with NJSTART
  • How to apply: Contact NJBAC if you’re interested in applying for the NJ STEP grant.

Upskill: NJ Incumbent Worker Training Grant Program

  • Program description: This N.J. upskilling grant program can help defray the cost of training existing employees and make businesses more competitive.
  • Incentive: Eligible N.J. employers can receive up to $200K in reimbursement matching funds for training incumbent employees to meet current and future occupational skill requirements.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant if you’re a single employer:
    • Be an N.J.-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 N.J. 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, offer a variety of small business grants in New Jersey.You can compare small business grants in N.J. with similar programs in other states, such as:

Do You Have to Pay Back a Small Business Grant?

A small business grant typically comes with terms and conditions, and you may be responsible for paying back the grant if you violate those terms. In general, small and midsized business owners are not required to pay back an SMB grant absent any violations.You typically have to sign a funding agreement to accept a small business grant. As mentioned above, the grant may come with certain conditions. Using the grant for an illegitimate purpose may violate the agreement and require business owners to pay back the grant.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.Recommended: How To Get a Small Business 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, including individuals with freelancing business ideas, may be eligible for small business grants.

What Industries Does NJ Support With Grants?

New Jersey offers a variety of grants supporting the following industries:
  • 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 N.J. small business owners with the following services:
  • Business training courses, seminars, webinars, and workshops
  • Entrepreneur Certificate Program (ECP)
  • Confidential business counseling at no cost

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

Here are some alternative funding sources for small businesses in New Jersey:

New Jersey State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

The New Jersey SSBCI is a federally funded program for small business owners in the Garden State. Federal law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — allocates more than $255 million to New Jersey’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program.Here’s how New Jersey plans to use the SSBCI funding:
  • N.J. Clean Energy Business Financing — $80 million. This program uses SSBCI funds alongside private funds to support loans to N.J. small business owners who seek financing for qualifying clean energy projects.
  • N.J. Life Science Investment — $60 million. This program will help eligible N.J. life science startups access venture capital.
  • N.J. Blended Capital Fund — $50 million. This program uses SSBCI funds to support Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) small business loans to eligible borrowers, including socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own N.J. small businesses.
  • N.J. Recovery Loan Loss Reserve Fund — $25 million. This program makes it easier for N.J. small business owners to qualify for financing by providing CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) with guarantees of 50% for all enrolled loans.
  • N.J. Angel Match Program — $20.2 million. This program matches direct investment in eligible N.J.-based tech startups on a one-to-one basis via unsecured convertible notes ranging from $100K to $500K.
  • N.J. SEDI Seed Fund — $20 million. This program for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals can help SEDI-owned businesses access venture capital.

NJ Microloan Lenders

Community-based nonprofits may offer microloans of up to $50,000 to small business owners in New Jersey, including microloans for women-owned small businesses. In general, microloans can range from $500 to $50K and may be available to startups.

New Jersey SMB Loans from Private Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer different types of small business loans to N.J. business owners.Here are some of the funding products you may consider depending on your needs:

Find Small Business Financing With Lantern

If you need funding to grow your business, Lantern by SoFi can help. Just fill out a simple form and find the right financing for your business.Lantern can help you find fast funding for your small or medium-sized enterprise.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a small business grant in New Jersey?
How hard is it to get a business loan in New Jersey?
What is the easiest SBA loan to get approved for?
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About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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