Press Release
August 15, 2013
3 minute read


Stronger NJ Business Grant Funds to Support Recovery and Rebuilding

TRENTON, N.J. (August 15, 2013)
– Demonstrating the Christie Administration’s commitment to the recovery of small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Michele A. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), delivered a Stronger NJ Business Grant check  for more than $25,000 today to Van Note Custom Canvas, a customized watercraft canvas business in Lavallette.  The grant represents the first disbursement of the business’s overall $50,000 grant and will support Van Note’s rebuilding process as a result of damage from Sandy.  

“The recovery process from the storm has been long and challenging, and I have seen remarkable examples of strength and perseverance among business owners impacted by Superstorm Sandy,” said Michele Brown.  “There is still work to be done, but so many businesses have managed to get their doors open through sheer determination. We are happy to support worthy businesses like Van Note Custom Canvas with the Stronger NJ Business Grant program.”

Van Note Custom Canvas, which offers customized watercraft canvas work, opened in 1993 in Normandy Beach.  In 2004, it moved to its larger location in Lavallette.  The business experienced four feet of flooding from the storm, and lost all of its inventory and equipment.  Employees were able to return to the business two weeks after the storm and reopened in early March.

“Like other businesses in Lavallette , we were devastated by the storm. We are all doing our best and helping each other however we can,” said Thomas Van Note, owner of Van Note Custom Canvas.  “The support we are receiving from the State will help us to recover and rebuild so we can continue to offer the same level of service we always have.”

Another Lavallette business, The Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe, recently received the first $40,000 of their $50,000 Stronger NJ Business Grant.  Located in Lavallette since 2003, the Music Man was surrounded by 4 and 1/2 feet of water following the storm.  All of the business’s inventory and equipment were destroyed, and the entire interior of the building had to be renovated.

“I am happy to see that the grants are being administered in a methodical, structured fashion, and I hope as many businesses as possible will receive the same support The Music Man has,” said Josephine Sessa-Agliata, owner of The Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe. “It’s a detailed application, but guidance from my EDA business advisor along the way simplified the process.”

Beginning 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 is making low-cost loans of up to $5 million available to businesses and non-profits that were impacted by the storm, as well as businesses looking to expand within storm-impacted communities.

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.

To date, the EDA has received 270 completed applications under the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program, and 45 businesses have been awarded grants totaling up to $2.38 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.

Applications 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).  

EDA business advisors are located at One-Stop Career Centers in the nine most impacted counties to help businesses with the application process.  The Ocean County one-stop is located at 1027 Hooper Ave, Building 6, in Toms River. Business advisors will be available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Appointments are suggested, but not required.