Disaster Loans

Family Assistance

Corrections or additions?

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, executive director of the NJEDA, says that

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

www.njeda.com. The goals for this rate reduction:

To keep cash flowing at affordable rates for new and


businesses in high tech fields and urban areas.

To encourage banks to participate in NJEDA lending


To stay competitive with surrounding states.

To help the NJEDA be a catalyst for economic growth and job

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, chairman of the NJEDA. The NJEDA works

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.

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Disaster Loans

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

operating expenses.

Call 800-659-2955 or E-mail: njhelps@commerce.state.nj.us 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

at risk.

Top Of Page
Family Assistance

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.

Craig Lafferty, president and CEO of UWGMC, told the agencies

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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