United Way: Here’s How COVID Has Impacted Newark Small Businesses

·4 min read

NEWARK, NJ — The following news release comes courtesy of the United Way of Greater Newark. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site.

The United Way of Greater Newark (UWGN) released its first-ever “COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grants Program 2020 Report,” detailing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses, both nationally and in Newark, including the industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic, and next steps for rebuilding as the city faces a long road to recovery.

At the start of the pandemic, UWGN partnered with the City of Newark and Invest Newark to launch its Community COVID-19 Fund to support local community members, organizations and small businesses impacted by the pandemic. An important part of that relief effort was developing an Emergency Small Grant Program aimed at helping small businesses and microenterprises with losses they had experienced, including loss of income, payroll loss, and sales, among others. To date, UWGN has received more than 900 applications and awarded more than $1 million in funding to businesses in need in Newark.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our hardworking residents and small business owners in Newark and across New Jersey, and we know that the economic impacts will be long-lasting and widely felt,” said Catherine Wilson, President & CEO of UWGN. “With this first-ever report, our goal was to offer deep insights into the economic impact of the pandemic and the sectors and industries that were impacted most. We’re grateful to the City and Invest Newark for their partnership and are looking forward to working diligently to provide more targeted relief and solutions to those who need it most.”

“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Mayor Baraka, the United Way of Greater Newark and Invest Newark quickly realized that the residents, small businesses and non-profit organizations of our city faced an unprecedented struggle to survive,” said Allison Ladd, Deputy Mayor and Director of Economic and Housing Development. “Before federal funds became available, they moved fast and created the Emergency Small Business Grant partnership to enable Newark’s most vulnerable businesses to stay afloat and retain jobs. This report documents the impact of the pandemic on our small businesses and what the COVID-19 Emergency Fund was able to achieve. But equally important, it provides a road map for helping Newark’s small businesses get through the pandemic and rebuild in its aftermath.”

“As shown by this report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an outsized impact on small businesses across Newark. Through the collective partnership on the Community COVID-19 Fund, we have been able to quickly create and mobilize resources to support Newark small businesses through the pandemic. But that work isn’t done yet. Through the 'COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grants Program 2020 Report,' we have better data and tools to continue our work together with United Way of Greater Newark to chart a path to help lift up our city’s small business economy,” said Bernel Hall, President & CEO of Invest Newark.

The application for the grant, primarily designed for small businesses with fewer than 10 total employees, required businesses to answer a series of questions, including how long their business had been open and whether or not the owner had to lay off employees as a result of the pandemic. The findings illustrated in the report demonstrate the severity of COVID-19 on small businesses in Newark.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Just under seven in ten (69%) of businesses that applied have been open for three or more years, demonstrating that established thriving businesses were in need as much as newer businesses.

  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of applicants are unsure if they can, or certain that they cannot pay their rent anymore.

  • The most applicants reported the following experiences related to COVID-19: inability to pay bills or fees (78%), lack of cash reserves (74%), decrease in number of customers (68%), disruption in operations due to an order by the City of Newark (67%), and temporary closures (67%).

  • More than half of businesses are minority or person of color owned (59%), locally owned (58%), and woman-owned (54%). Over one quarter are immigrant-owned (27%).

The report also includes next steps for future rounds of funding as well as future strategies for rebuilding Newark’s small business economy long term. UWGN remains a vigilant partner to the community in tackling the greatest needs of residents, social service providers and public health sectors and will continue to distribute funds accordingly. For more information about the Community COVID-19 Fund and United Way of Greater Newark’s commitment to serving the community or to make a donation, please visit: www.UWNewark.org.

The full report is available here.

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This article originally appeared on the Newark Patch

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