Business Report: State budget priorities, PPP loan changes, foreclosure prevention bill, Loew’s Theatre renovation

From Feb. 24, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have a two-week exclusive window to apply for PPP loans

Progressive groups are urging the Murphy administration to prioritize spending in the new state budget for people and communities most in need. On Monday, several groups known as the For the Many Coalition held a news conference to urge funding for social programs, health care, education and housing. They said continued investment in New Jersey’s communities will help the state’s economy get back on track.

The Biden administration is making changes to the Paycheck Protection Program that are designed to help smaller and minority-owned businesses. Starting Wednesday, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have a two-week exclusive window to apply for PPP loans. Bigger companies will not be able to apply during that time. The administration will also set aside loan money for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed workers. Previously, they were excluded from the program altogether.

New Jersey lawmakers have given final approval to a bill designed to keep residents facing foreclosure in their homes. Under the legislation, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency could purchase properties at risk of foreclosure and then help residents find a more affordable mortgage. Right now due to the pandemic there’s a moratorium in place that prevents foreclosures, but advocates are worried about what will happen once that’s lifted.

Jersey City’s historic Loew’s Theatre is getting a second act. Mayor Steven Fulop on Monday announced a $72 million restoration that will transform the theater into a state-of-the-art venue with more than 3,000 seats. Jersey City selected Devils Arena Entertainment, which operates the Prudential Center, for the revitalization project. Construction is set to begin next year, with an anticipated opening in 2025.

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