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This article was prepared for the October 17, 2001 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
For a Sluggish Economy, Cheaper Loans
In the wake of the general economic downturn in the
past year and of the September 11 attack, more relief efforts have
been announced. It just got cheaper, for example, for high tech
to borrow money from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
Partly in response to the drop in federal lending rates, the NJEDA
is making across-the-board interest rate cuts in all of its lending
programs. Some loans will drop from five percent to three percent,
the lowest that the NJEDA has ever offered, and some will change from
fixed-rate financing to adjustable financing. (The regular bank prime
rate last week was about 5.5 percent.)
Caren S. Franzini
the lower rates, combined with rate reductions by banks in response
to the Federal Reserve, "will enable New Jersey businesses to
obtain financing on the most favorable terms offered in capital
in several decades." For information call 609-292-1800 or visit
businesses in high tech fields and urban areas.
creation in the state.
"The NJEDA is a mainstay source of capital for urban-based
small and mid-sized businesses, minority and woman owned businesses,
and high technology businesses — especially emerging high
companies — as well as a lending resource for business projects
located on brownfield sites reclaimed from environmental damage,"
says Anthony Coscia
with banks to guarantee up to 30 percent of the loan or participate
up to 25 percent.
"Each of those categories of business are important to the New
Jersey economy," says Coscia, "and the NJEDA is important
to them as a means to obtain financing so that they can expand, create
jobs, bring new products to market, and maintain working capital
that keep them moving forward. We want to be sure they can find
financing, and make that financing attractive to them during the
Emerging high tech companies can apply for the New Jersey Seed Capital
program, which provides from $25,000 to $500,000 for working capital
or fixed assets. Later stage companies can apply to the New Jersey
Technology Funding program, in which the NJEDA guarantees a percentage
of the bank loans of from $100,000 to $5 million. Various loans for
urban districts — amounts up to $100,000 — also fall in the
three percent category.
"As the chief economic development agency in New Jersey, our rate
reductions go hand in hand with the moves by the Federal Reserve and
by banks that have lowered rates," says Franzini. "Effective
October 11, we will accept applications for financing at the new,
lower rates, subject to adoption of the regulations." Previous
loans will not be renegotiated.
Nevertheless, until the changes become effective, borrowers are at
risk that current NJEDA rates will apply to the transactions. Also
each loan will continue to be subjected to analysis of factors such
as municipal location, type of industry, investment in new facilities,
facility expansion and improvements, employment and job creation,
and reclamation of brownfield sites.
The NJEDA has issued $312 million in financing assistance to 248
so far this year.
Middlesex County businesses that have been affected
by the World Trade Center disaster may be eligible for federal
Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To qualify, your business must have used all reasonably available
funds and be unable to obtain credit to pay for ordinary and necessary
Call 800-659-2955 or E-mail: email@example.com or go to
So far, Mercer County businesses do not qualify, but are urged instead
to call the New Jersey Business Assistance Hotline, 800-643-6090.
At some point in the future, Mercer County might be put in the
category. The qualification depends on a county having at least five
businesses that experienced at least a 40 percent gross revenue loss
as a direct result of the September 11 attack. Qualifying counties
as of last week are Hudson, Bergen, Union, Passaic, and Middlesex.
"These loans were designed to fully compensate eligible business
operations during the post-disaster recovery," says Linda
the Democratic assemblywoman from Plainsboro. "They will help
to stabilize the business community as the country economically
from this crisis." Travel-related businesses are particularly
If you wondered how Central Jersey’s social agencies
were able to coordinate their efforts to help all the area victims
of the September 11 tragedy, here’s how it’s working. The United Way
of Greater Mercer County has set up a September 11th Coordinating
Committee that involves an impressive array of 21 agencies dealing
with crisis response, mental health issues, and other human care
Surely these agencies, which range from the AAMH to Womanspace, and
which regularly compete for donor funds, have never before worked
so closely together.
not to worry about money when they are serving families impacted by
the disaster, that the United Way will help them obtain the financial
resources. "We wanted the agencies to be able to focus all their
energies on addressing the needs emerging from the disaster and
to meet the on-going needs of their current clients."
In Mercer and Middlesex counties, an estimated 115 families have been
affected by the disaster. Some have received services, others are
not ready to discuss their needs. For 22 families, where jobs were
lost, financial assistance has been provided.
"One of the biggest challenges facing all agencies today,"
says Lafferty, "is finding out just who needs help as a result
of the recent devastation. There’s no complete listing of all the
victims in our area. We’re encouraging everyone who’s seeking
— or who knows someone who needs help — to call United Way
at 609-896-1912 or the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey at
"The American Red Cross of Central New Jersey is acting as an
advocate for each victim in our area through their Good Neighbor
says Lafferty, "and they’re doing an incredible job. As other
agencies learn of affected families, they make certain that the
have been in contact with the American Red Cross; if not, the agency
makes sure the Red Cross reaches out to that family. The Red Cross
also refers people to other agencies as specific needs are
Under the Good Neighbor Program, Red Cross staff members and
visit or contact families to help families identify their needs. Red
Cross mental health workers are part of the team. The agency can
immediate direct free financial assistance for mortgage payments,
rents, additional living expenses, funeral expenses, or travel costs
for bringing in family members for support.
Volunteers can also help families qualify for the National Red Cross
Cash Grant program, which provides a direct, tax-free financial gift
to families who lost a loved one or had a family member injured at
the WTC; this program provides a financial base for several months
while the family deals with the emotions of the event and can access
other financial assistance programs.
Over the next three to six months, more needs may emerge —
problems with children, increased incidents of domestic violence,
and emotional issues for those who were not directly impacted but
were directly affected, and the Coordinating Committee will monitor
these. "There’s a concern," Lafferty explains, "that those
people who work in lower Manhattan or have a friend or colleague
impacted will be in need of help as well. It’s not uncommon during
times of disaster for trauma symptoms to appear months later."
The Salvation Army took a mobile kitchen to Ground Zero on September
13, and the UWGMC helped to recruit volunteers for this effort. UWGMC
staff and board members — along with members of the Trenton Rotary
— worked shifts to keep the kitchen operating. With Nexus
donating the use of a North Olden Avenue warehouse, the UMGMC and
the Salvation Army arranged a drop-off center for donated goods.
Among the other Coordinating Committee members are Cancer Care,
Charities, Contact, Family & Children’s Services, Family Guidance,
Greater Trenton Community Mental Health Center, Hands on Helpers,
Interfaith Care Givers, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Mercer
County Hispanic Association, Mercer County Mental Health, Prevention
Education, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Rescue Mission,
Hospice, St. Francis Medical Center, Trinity Counseling Service, and
"We are incredibly impressed by the hard work, determination,
and spirit of cooperation demonstrated by agencies providing direct
services to those in need of assistance," says Lafferty.
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