Business Report: Main Street businesses, SALT deduction, electric trucks

EDA to launch second phase of $10 million COVID-19 emergency assistance loan program

Main Street businesses met Tuesday to talk about how to get through the next few months of the pandemic. The New Jersey Downtown Conference kicked off with a message from Gov. Phil Murphy, who said more help is on the way. He said that later this month the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will launch the second phase of its $10 million COVID-19 emergency assistance loan program.

The governor also talked up the new Main Street Recovery Finance program, which will provide millions in grants and loans to small businesses. That program is part of the Economic Recovery Act, which the governor recently signed into law.

Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, South Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross said he is expecting New Jersey to benefit from having a new administration in place, and that more federal dollars will flow to the state. And while he doesn’t see it happening right away, Norcross said he believes Congress will revisit the issue of the SALT (state and local tax) deduction. Norcross spoke at a virtual event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey.

Unemployed workers should get their federal supplemental benefits as soon as Tuesday. After a delay, the state labor department says those payments were successfully processed over the weekend. The department processed two weeks worth of payments, so eligible claimants will receive $600.

The state is providing an incentive to try to wean businesses off diesel trucks. The Economic Development Authority has approved a $15 million program to encourage businesses to buy environmentally-friendly electric trucks. Companies would receive vouchers of between $25,000 and $100,000 to help pay for the purchases. Right now this is a pilot program that will be available in Newark and Camden, but it could be expanded to other communities.