Press Release
August 21, 2013
3 minute read


Stronger NJ Business Grant Funds Will Support Recovery and Rebuilding at First Avenue Pizza

First Ave Pizza “Open for Business” Video

TRENTON, NJ – Demonstrating the Christie Administration’s commitment to the recovery of small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), today announced that First Avenue Pizza in Manasquan is the recipient of a $50,000 Stronger NJ Business Grant.  The business has received a check for $32,000, which represents the first disbursement of their grant and will support First Avenue’s rebuilding. 

“I continue to be so impressed by the resiliency of New Jersey’s small businesses,” said Michele Brown, CEO of the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA).  “It seems the challenges presented by Superstorm Sandy have united our communities, as business owners, local officials, and citizens have pulled together to rebuild.  The Stronger NJ Business Grant program is here to support businesses like First Avenue, which are determined to overcome these challenges and remain vital parts of their communities.”

First Avenue Pizza, located in Manasquan since 1998 was flooded by more than four feet of water and surrounded by 3-4 feet of sand.  Sand also seeped into the building when the front door collapsed.  But First Avenue Pizza reopened on May 23, in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“We have worked hard to get our business up and running again, and are happy to be back,” said Rachel Vukovic, Owner, First Avenue Pizza.  “Our customers have been so loyal and we appreciate their support, as well as the assistance offered to us by the State through the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program.”

To date, the EDA has received 330 completed applications under the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program, and 50 businesses have been awarded grants totaling up to $2.62 million.  Once approved for a grant, businesses have up to one year to submit receipts and invoices for eligible expenses, at which point the EDA will issue a disbursement.

Eligibility for Stronger NJ Business Grants is no longer tied to whether a business has applied for a Small Business Association Loan.  In some cases, businesses may be eligible for reimbursement of repair costs incurred prior to applying for a grant.

Since May 1st, storm-impacted small businesses have been able to apply for EDA administered grants of up to $50,000 through the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program. The program launched two days after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved New Jersey’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Action Plan. Governor Christie called on the EDA to administer $460 million of the state’s CDBG Disaster Recovery allocation to support the recovery of impacted businesses. The Stronger NJ Business Grant program is the first of these CDBG-funded business recovery programs and is utilizing $260 million of the allocation. 

On July 1, the EDA unveiled the $100 million Stronger NJ Business Loan program, which provides low-cost loans of up to $5 million to eligible businesses and non-profits that were impacted by the storm, as well as businesses looking to expand within storm-impacted communities.

Applications for Stronger NJ Business Grants must be received on or by October 31, 2013.  For more information on the Stronger NJ Business Grant program, including the complete list of eligibility criteria and eligible uses of funds visit or call EDA’s Sandy hotline at 1-855-SANDY-BZ (1-855-726-3929). 

To help businesses with the application process, EDA business advisors are located at One-Stop Career Centers in the nine most impacted counties.  The Monmouth County one-stop is located at 60 Taylor Avenue in Neptune. Business advisors are available every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Appointments are suggested, but not required.