NJ.com | Christie, former 1st lady launch nonprofit to provide loans to struggling N.J. small businesses
The former governor and former First Lady Mary Pat Christie have started a nonprofit that will dole out $3,000 forgivable loans to New Jersey businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the global pandemic.
The couple is donating $100,000 to the nonprofit, New Jersey 30-Day Fund. The donation is meant as seed money. The Christies plan to press people in New Jersey and beyond to contribute to the cause, they said. Christie plans to make a formal announcement Friday morning on Good Morning America.
The new venture is a way to pitch in as New Jersey continues to recover, the former governor told NJ Advance Media.
“It’s very frustrating, I think, for someone who’s been in public life for 15 years helping others to be on the sideline during this crisis,” Christie said.
Under the loan program, businesses need to be New Jersey-based, employ three to 30 people and have been in operation for at least a year to be eligible. The hope is the $3,000 would help businesses stay afloat for 30 days while they wait for other aid, including federal assistance, Christie said.
“We’re hopeful. We think people will respond to us,” the former governor said.
It’s molded after and is a subsidy of Virginia 30-Day Fund. The Virginia-based nonprofit was established by a tech entrepreneur and has the same eligibility requirements as the New Jersey 30-Day Fund.
“The Virginia 30-Day Fund actually helped my niece,” Mary Pat Christie said, explaining what gave them the idea to establish it here in the Garden State.
The goal is for small businesses to get an answer to those applying for the money within three days. College students will be volunteering to vet the applications to help speed the process.
“A lot of college kids’ internships have been canceled and I was trying to find a way to help these really smart kids who are at home,” Mary Pat Christie said, adding she’s already identified about 60 students on break from school in New Jersey who are willing to volunteer.
The nonprofit will also team up with Seton Hall University School of Law, which is home to the Christie Institute for Public Policy, and Seton Hall’s business school to find volunteers.
“These students who are really smart and they’re doing the vetting,” Mary Pat Christie said, “And if they can organically help them navigate federal loan programs, that’s an added benefit.”
The loans are forgivable, meaning the businesses won’t be required to pay them back. But if they do, the money will go back into the non-profit so that other businesses will have access to the funds.
Small businesses can find out more about how to apply at nj30dayfund.com. That’s also where people can go to donate.
The demand for aid in New Jersey is high.
More than 10,000 businesses applied for $5 million in small business grants a little more than an hour after the New Jersey Economic Development Authority opened up applications for the grants in early April. Within a week, another 22,000 submitted applications for grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
This week, EDA was again flooded with 19,500 applications within hours of accepting requests for a $45 million grant programfor small businesses hurt by the pandemic.
Chris Christie has waded into the public debate about when New Jersey and other states should loosen restrictions to blunt the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said in April people “must start now to restore the American way of life now” in an op-ed in The Washington Post that detailed five steps the country should take to reopen. He used his Twitter account with more than 882,500 followers to share stories ofpeople waiting in line at food banks in South Jersey and a widowed Garden State mother who didn’t receive unemployment benefits due to the backlog within the state’s Department of Labor.
After being governor, Christie earned a living with a book deal, a gig as an ABC News analyst, a lucrative law firm, paid speaking tours, real estate investments and, more recently, as a registered lobbyist.