Business Report: Call to reopen state offices, small business grants, NJ housing prices continue to surge

May 3 marked the start of the grant application period for Phase 4 of EDA’s small business assistance program

Following Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement of easing COVID-19-related restrictions, one state senator says it’s time to reopen state government offices, including walk-in unemployment centers. Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Passaic) says she’s still hearing from hundreds of unemployed workers who can’t resolve their claims online or over the phone, and are still waiting for benefits. She says the centers should reopen immediately.

Monday marked the start of the grant application period for Phase 4 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s small business assistance program. Tim Sullivan, CEO of the EDA, said the goal is to get that money out quickly, later this month. The EDA began accepting applications May 3 from businesses that have not been funded previously. Starting May 5, restaurant owners and child care providers can apply. And a week from Monday, applications will be accepted from microbusinesses. All other small businesses can apply starting May 12. Grant awards will range from $10,000 to $20,000.

New Jersey’s red-hot housing market shows no sign of cooling. For the first three months of 2021, the average sales price of a single-family home shot up 24% to $500,000 compared to the same period a year ago; that’s a $100,000 increase. Condo and townhouse prices rose too. New Jersey Realtors President-Elect Robert White says low mortgage rates are helping to fuel demand. But rising prices also put home ownership out of reach of many, and President Biden is now calling for the building of 2 million affordable housing units as part of his broad infrastructure proposal.

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