Business Report: Help for restaurants, unemployment system upgrades, new Amazon fulfillment center

Sustain and Serve program could bring more business to 160 restaurants

Restaurant owners have long been pleading for more help to survive the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them are going to get that soon, through a new state initiative that will give them additional business. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Thursday announced that it will award $14 million in grants through its Sustain and Serve program. Under that program, grant money is awarded to organizations for them to buy meals from restaurants to feed those in need. The EDA expects 1.5 million meals will be purchased from at least 160 restaurants.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal this week included additional funding for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to continue upgrading its system for processing unemployment claims, but some state lawmakers say more money is needed. They’re advancing a bill that would allocate $50 million in federal funds to help with modernization. The state’s aging system was one of the reasons why some unemployment claims were slow to get processed.

Amazon, continuing to embrace doing business in New Jersey, has set its sights on Monmouth County. According to the Mayor of Ocean Township, the e-commerce retailer is planning to open a new fulfillment center at the Seaview Square Shopping Center, in a former Sears store. The center is expected to open this fall, with 150 to 200 full- and part-time jobs created.

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