North Jersey | Christie launches fund to help small businesses during coronavirus pandemic
Former Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, on Friday launched a short-term loan program for small businesses affected by COVID-19.
The NJ 30-Day Fund, modeled after a nonprofit in Virginia, should be running as early as this week and providing loans to businesses, Mary Pat Christie said in a statement. It will start with $100,000 from the Christie family, and already started receiving donations after its launch Friday morning.
“Our hope is to quickly provide some financial relief to help those businesses who need it most,” Chris Christie said in the announcement, and “that this will be one more example of New Jersey residents helping New Jersey residents.”
Christie, a Republican who left office in 2018, has kept a relatively low profile since reaching his two-term limit and turning over control of the state to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. He’s been a regular presence as a political analyst on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” started a consulting firm, a law firm and, most recently, registered as a federal lobbyist.
Christie also started a civic institute partnered with his alma mater, Seton Hall University, which had planned to donate money for law students, but the NJ 30-Day Fund is the first known major contribution his family has personally made to benefit the general public. Mary Pat Christie, a former investment banker, had created and ran a relief fund after Superstorm Sandy.
“I really enjoy that stuff and feel like we’ve contributed a lot over time,” Chris Christie said in an interview. “And as I’m watching things develop here, I had to figure out ways that I could help. So this is the idea that we came up with, ultimately, and I think it’s a good one.”
It is certainly needed. The unemployment rate due to the pandemic is at 15% and applications for a $45 million pool of money for small businesses through the state Economic Development Authority was shut down earlier this week after four hours.
The loans through the Christies’ fund will be forgivable up to $3,000 for businesses owned and operated by a New Jersey resident. They must have between three and 30 employees. The application process, which includes submitting a brief video, was described as “simple and quick,” with an answer on applications within three days.
The fund was modeled after, and partnered with, the nonprofit VA 30-Day Fund started in April by marketing executive Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson. Mary Pat Christie said that in speaking with the Snyders, “it was apparent that the quick turnaround was a lifesaver for small businesses which were waiting to reopen.”
She said she learned of the Virginia fund about two weeks ago through a niece and her husband, who run a small marketing business in that state and “quickly got back on their feet” because of the fund.
New Jersey is in the second phase of its reopening, with retail, nail salons and outdoor dining starting back up with limited capacity. But many other businesses are shuttered and, after three months of lockdown measures, anxious to reopen and running out of money to survive.
If businesses that receive the loans can re-pay them, the repayments would go back into the fund for loans to other businesses, the Christies said in the announcement.
The fund has gotten assistance from Seton Hall business, law, undergraduate and other college students who will review grant applications and help businesses through the process, the announcement said. And several unnamed New Jersey companies are offering volunteer services, it said.
Chris Christie said he expects the fund to last between three and six months. It’s designed to help as many businesses as quickly as possible, not to become a long-term project, he said.
The fund can accept contributions from businesses and individuals. To contribute, apply or for more information, visit nj30dayfund.com.